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3. Armed conflict and peace processes in the Americas


Overview [PDF]

I. Key general developments in the region, Marina Caparini [PDF]

II. Armed conflict and the peace process in Colombia, José Alvarado [PDF]

III. Armed conflict in Mexico, Marina Caparini [PDF]

In 2019 non-international armed conflicts, as defined under international humani-tarian law, were present in two countries in the Americas: Colombia and Mexico. Beyond the strict definitions of inter-national humanitarian law, various forms of armed violence affected these and other countries in the region in 2019.



Implementation of the 2016 Colombian peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP) continued throughout 2019. At the same time, the Government of Colombia was involved in several non-international armed conflicts with non-signatory non-state armed groups, while there were add-itional conflicts among such groups. The fragmentation of armed groups threatens to destabilize the fragile peace that has sustained since ratification of the peace agreement.



In Mexico, which in 2019 had the highest number of homicides in a century, a non-international armed conflict has emerged between the state and the criminal syndicate Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG). Based on the level of armed violence between government forces and the CJNG and the latter’s well-organized structure, by early 2019 the threshold for a non-international armed conflict between the Government of Mexico and the CJNG had been met.


Peace operations

There were four multilateral peace oper-ations active in the Americas in 2019: the new United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti; the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti; the UN Verification Mission in Colombia; and the Organization of American States (OAS) Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia. Additionally, the OAS established a special commission on Nicaragua. However, the OAS Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras failed to reach agreement on renewal of its mandate with the Government of Honduras. 


Criminal violence

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, global deaths caused by criminal activity far exceeded those caused by conflicts and terrorism combined. By the metric of homicides, in which organized crime has a significant role, the Americas remained the world’s most violent region in 2019. 


Political unrest

The year 2019 was also marked by political unrest in which waves of mass demon-strations swept across many of the countries in the region. While triggered by differing issues or events, the protests often had similar underlying causes, including economic pressures from slow rates of economic growth since 2015, persistently high levels of inequality, discontent with the functioning of democratic institutions and processes, and enduring problems of corruption and abuse of power by political and economic elites. 

Dr Marina Caparini and José Francisco Alvarado Cóbar