Marketing for Conflict Transformation: The Case of Peace Laboratories in Colombia

Marketing for Conflict Transformation: The Case of Peace Laboratories in Colombia

Fred R. van Sluijs (Independent Researcher, Costa Rica), Marinus C. Gisolf (Tourism Theories Asesores, Costa Rica) and Arno Ambrosius (Independent Researcher, Costa Rica)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7464-4.ch011


When in 2016 the Colombian peace agreement was signed between the FARC-EP and the Colombian government, the hope was created to finish a chapter of cruel internal violence leaving close to 300,000 deaths in 50 years of conflict. The peace process, which is still continuing, incorporated a wide range of visions, approaches, political stands, gender issues on poverty in all its destructive dynamics. The European Union's decision at the beginning of the 21st century to help stimulate a peace process from the bottom upwards through so-called peace laboratories is analyzed, and their development, their success, and their limitations are followed in an attempt to shed light on the triangular relationship between people in conflict, peace, and the mechanisms that can connect the two.
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The main objective of this chapter is to show, that conflict and peace can be paralleled to each other, leading to an increased understanding of their dimensions, conditions and nature. The change of a situation of armed conflict towards more peaceful environments employs a series of mechanisms, that incorporates stakeholders on all levels and exercises a binding function towards a common goal: to achieve the type of change that leads to a growing understanding of the required readjustments of political, institutional and socio-economic structures of a society in a just and inclusive manner. The existing contradiction is that peace can become an instrument, that for some may mean a political or socio-economic menace and in practice may mean changes in social and political power relationships. Peace may be regarded as a situation or state of (political) being, but peace as an ever changing condition in social and political life can not only be a tool to reach sustainability, but also a much needed condition to combat corruption, drugs trafficking and outside influences that may threaten the basic fabric of a given society.

First a theoretical framework will be presented, starting out from International Relations theories and then narrowing down the scope to the theory of conflict studies, clearing the grounds for the focal point of this chapter: marketing peace as an essential mechanism of a conflict transformation process and highlighted by a specific case study of the Laboratories of Peace developed in Colombia during the last two decades. When peace negotiations take place, what is negotiated are the conditions for peace and although peace is still considered to mean an absence of violence and conflict, a wider social interpretation of the term shows a more versatile face of peace as being a generator of socio-economic conditions leading to social, economic and environmental sustainability. The question that this chapter intends to answer is that negotiating peace in this wider sense challenges a whole range of (historically) established power relations, converting peace into an instrument. Can peace itself be used as a means for non-violent conflict resolution? To use peace as an instrument for non-violent conflict resolution formed an innovative initiative, undertaken by the European Union in Colombia as will be explained further on.

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