The main obstacle to economic development in Colombia is the armed conflict that is been taking place for more than 50 years. NIR has been active in Colombia since the mid 1990’s. Our objective there is to contribute to creating a lasting peace. To this end, we have established two major projects, one in partnership with the Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO)  and the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees (TCO) along with our collective sister organisations in Colombia. Within this initiative we have worked with Colombian and Swedish union and employee representatives to create a negotiation manual. There was a great need for this manual as the parties involved were not used to negotiating without ending up in conflict. The manual is used locally in companies and has produced excellent results for both parties. This project ended in 2012 but the parties are continuing to develop their partnership locally. NIR will continue to support these efforts with exchange programmes and seminars.

Our major project is in collaboration with the Colombian equivalent of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, National Business Association of Colombia (ANDI) and the think tank Foundation Ideas for Peace (FIP) on a project where our focus is to support a process towards a sustainable peace. To this end, we have created tools for how companies can work in areas marred by conflict. These companies work in environments where illegal activities are part of everyday life and the risk of being exposed to blackmail or bribing can be great. Businesses looking to work under these circumstances need knowledge and tools to cope with this. Within the project we have also given vocational training to people who previously took part in criminal activities or that run a risk of being drawn into crime. After this training a number of people have been employed by Swedish companies in Colombia or have started their own businesses.

NIR has also helped to develop tools for handling staff from defined at risk groups, such as internal refugees,  the demobilisedbu and young people at risk of falling into criminal activities. One concrete result of this is that other Swedish companies have worked with us to create a pilot for a vocational training programme for at-risk youth. The companies needed trained mechanics and a number of young people needed training. The result was opportunities for both parties.

If you want to know more about our work in Colombia, please contact Lisa Osbäck.