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Methodology for Monitoring Implementation of the Colombian Peace Agreement

In 2012, researchers and mediators from the Peace Accords Matrix (PAM) program at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies began providing research support to the Havana negotiations between the Government of Colombia (GoC) and FARC-EP on issues of accord content and the importance of implementation and long-term verification.

As it became evident that a final agreement would soon be reached, the team proposed a new methodology of real-time, holistic implementation assessment. They presented this methodology to the delegations involved in the negotiations in Havana. In particular, the proposal sought to address some common weaknesses that were evident in previous implementation verification and review mechanisms. The purpose of the proposed Barometer Initiative was to provide a high quality, proactive, and responsive mechanism for assessment of implementation aimed at innovation and early preventative action.

The Barometer Initiative proposed that it would actively:

  • measure all aspects of compliance with the Final Accord with the goal of tracking implementation for ten years;
  • gather and assesses implementation events from published sources and field observations from a Colombia-based team of peace process specialists;
  • produce monthly data and periodic reports on the status of implementation, with an emphasis on identifying gaps and slowdowns; and
  • facilitate an objective, neutral, and impartial space to evaluate the assessments and consider timely responses for improving implementation.

The Barometer Initiative was accepted as part of the formal verification mechanism and included in the text of the Final Agreement to End the Armed Conflict and Build a Stable and Lasting Peace. Section 6.3.2. calls upon the Kroc Institute to “design the methodology to identify progress in agreement implementation” based on a “methodologically rigorous model for evaluation and monitoring that allows for the measurement of the fulfillment of the agreements.” The Kroc Institute will also be “in charge of technical support,” and will “provide reports, matrices and products” to the International Component of Verification (CIV) and the Commission to Monitor, Promote, and Verify Final Accord Implementation (CSIVI).

From 2016 to 2017, the PAM team created a specific methodology to monitor the implementation of 578 stipulations, which are defined as concrete, observable and measurable commitments, found in the accord. These stipulations were subdivided into 18 themes and 70 sub-themes, and grouped within the six points included in the agreement. The methodology also analyzes implementation of the territorial, ethnic, and gender dimensions of the accord called cross-cutting approaches. The number of stipulations is based on coding the text of the Final Agreement in consultation with the members of the CSIVI.

To monitor, track, validate, and organize all data collected locally, nationally, and internationally, the Barometer Initiative has a team specialized in gathering, analyzing, and communicating information on the status of the implementation. In Colombia, a team of specialists gathers information and monitors implementation in coordination with the parties to the Agreement, implementing agencies, civil society leaders, social leaders in rural territories, representatives of the international community, and academics.

Researchers located at the Kroc Institute in the United States focus on quantitative analysis of the information obtained in Colombia. This information is kept in a qualitative database (MAXQDA) that, by December 2021, contained 22,936 implementation events, which averages the processing of roughly 4,515 implementation events each year.

To calculate the levels of implementation of the stipulations, the analysis takes into account reports from more than 170 state entities, organizations, and think tanks, journal articles and content published in the media, as well as interviews with civil society representatives.

Based on the information collected, the researchers assign a score of 0 to 3 to each stipulation to indicate its level of implementation: 

  • 0 means that implementation of the stipulation has not been initiated; 
  • 1 means the stipulation has reached a minimum level of implementation (which signals that some action is underway to comply with the commitment but the current pace is not likely to produce full implementation within the established timeframe of the stipulation); 
  • 2 means the stipulation has reached an intermediate level of implementation (which signals that full implementation is considered feasible if the pace of implementation continues to advance within the established timeframe); and 
  • 3 means the stipulation has been fully implemented or completed.

Based on this data analysis, the project team prepares annual comprehensive reports and other briefs describing implementation progress that are presented to the CSIVI and the CIV, and then released to the public. A data visualization tool is also available to explore progress on implementation.

These reports offer an independent, objective, and non-partisan perspective on the status of implementation to the agreement stakeholders, implementing agencies, international community, civil society, academics, and peacebuilders. As a third-party monitor since the agreement’s signing, the Kroc Institute provides a proactive mechanism for evaluating implementation and highlights through its reports early preventative actions that support strategies for a robust and comprehensive implementation of the Final Accord.