Colombia’s peace deals in depth: Illicit drugs

Colombia’s decades-long fight against illicit drugs is to be solved with a two-year voluntary program of crop substitution, according to a preliminary agreement between the government and the FARC released on Wednesday.

Both sides have agreed to create a national programs to implement illicit crop substitution and to address drug consumption with a public health approach, while law enforcement’s institutional capacities are to be amplified to combat criminal groups involved in narco-trafficking.

The release of the full texts of the preliminary deals reached on agrarian reform, political participation, and illicit drugs was agreed upon by both sides as skepticism of the peace talks between Colombia’s largest guerrilla group and the government have grown over a lack of transparency.

Colombia’s peace deals in depth

Political participation

Rural reform

Illicit Drugs

These documents represent three of the six points being discussed at the peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba, which have been going on for over two years.

Prior to the release, only three broad points of the agreement on illicit crops were known. They were released in March of this year.

MORE: FARC agrees to end all illicit drug operations at Colombia peace talks

Crop substitution plan

One of the key aspects of the agreement is the creation of an agency to be known as the National Program for the Substitution of the Use of Illicit Crops (PNIS). It is integrated with and complements the Integrated Agrarian Development Policy outlined in Point 1 of the peace talks.

MORE: Colombia’s peace deals in depth: Rural reform

In addition to security guarantees strengthened by an increased state presence, a fundamental aspect of the program is consent and agreements formed by communities affected by the use of illicit crops. Community assemblies themselves, with help from the government, are to create the development and substitution plans. Illicit crops are to substituted voluntarily.

Where there is no agreement with the government, manual eradication will be prioritized to respect human rights and the environment. The FARC considers that in any case in which there is eradication, it should be done manually.

The government has committed to renouncing penal action against small cultivators for a two-year period to allow for this voluntary substitution. Communities which create drug substitution agreements with the government will decide the length necessary to fulfill commitments.

To aid substitution, food assistance will be provided families in the areas affected by illicit crops. There was no agreement on the period for this assistance; the government proposed six months, while the FARC proposed two years. Technical and material aid to create home gardens will also be provided to families.

Communities themselves, from infants to the elderly, are to receive social benefits like education, more employment opportunities, and sustainable/secure food.

Where cultivators comply with the requirements of crop substitution, land access and the formalization of property is to be expedited.

The financial commitment of the government to these projects it to be decided in Point 6 of the agreement.

Public health approach to drugs

Through the creation of the National Program of Comprehensive Intervention against the Consumption of Illicit Drugs, the government is to move away from penal action against drug consumers toward a public health-oriented approach.

The first aspect of the shift in approach will be create a national commission made of experts and citizen groups to revise and adjust public policy with regard to drug consumption.

Participatory actions plans that are particular to each population and territory are to be created. These plans are to promote public health and prevent drug consumption through education and youth leadership programs.

Evaluation and follow up on these plans is to be accompanied by an initiative to increase the public’s knowledge about the consumption of drugs through investigations, studies, and mechanisms to deliver this information.

Drug trafficking

The essence of the third section of the text on the solution to the production and commercialization of narcotics is an increase in the institutional capacities of law enforcement to deal with drug traffickers and money launderers.

This will include more effective prosecution to combat impunity and an improved strategy to detect and control illicit financial operations.

The agreement emphasizes that poor rural populations tied to the production of are to be treated differently than the criminal groups who run the trade.


Substitution programs of use of illicit crops. Comprehensive plans of development with participation of the communities in the design, execution, and evaluation of the programs of substitutions and environmental recovery of the areas affected by said crops.

Key initiative: National Program for the Substitution of the Use of Illicit Crops (PNIS)

  • Principles
    • Integrated with Integrated Land Reform Policy (RRI)
    • Participatory and concerted joint construction
    • Differential focus on conditions each territory
    • Respect and application of the principles and norms of the social State of law and coexistence
    • Voluntary substitution
  • Objectives
    • Overcome the conditions of poverty, contributing to structural transformations to result from RRI (1st point of agreement) and political participation (2nd point)
    • Generate productive policies and opportunities for the cultivators
    • Government – national territory free of illicit corps (*FARC – avoiding environmental deterioration, free of illicit crops)
    • Strengthening institutional presence of the state in areas affected by the use of illicit crops (security, infrastructure, education, etc)
  • Description and elements of PNIS
    • Conditions of security for the communities and territories affected by the used of illicit crops
    • Agreements with the communities
    • Prioritization of territories
    • Differential penal treatment, taking focus off small cultivators
    • Participatory construction and development of integrated community and municipal plans of substitution and alternative development (PISDA)
      • Community assemblies
      • Assembly proposals form basis of PISDA, constructed bottom-up
      • Integration with Development Programs with Territorial Focus (PDET)
      • Follow-up and evaluation
    • Components of PNIS
      • Plan of immediate attention and development of productive projects, including food, educational, technical, job, and other types of assistance
      • Rapid execution of social infrastructure projects
      • Environmental sustainability component
      • Property formalization plan
      • Plans for remote areas and those with small populations
      • Timelines, goals, and indicators
  • Implementation of PNIS in Natural National Parks (PNN)
  • Communication strategy to promote substitution
  • Financial commitment, to be decided in Point 6

Public Health Programs for the Prevention of Drug Consumption.

  • National Program of Comprehensive Intervention against the Consumption of Illicit Drugs.
    • Principles
      • Focus on human rights
      • Focus on public health
      • Differential and gender focus, including respect for traditional indigenous use\
      • Community participation and coexistence
      • Based on evidence
    • National System of Attention to the Consumer of Illicit Drugs with rehabilitation and social insertion
    • Participatory revision and adjustment of public policy on consumption of illicit drugs
    • Plans of participatory action with population and territorial focus
    • Evaluation and follow up on the actions related to the subject of consumption
    • Generation of knowledge on the subject of the consumption of illicit drugs

Solution to the phenomenon of narcotic production and commercialization

  • Effective Prosecution
    • Inter-institutional groups to investigate mechanisms of narco-trafficking and prevent formation of new groups
  • Strategy against the assets involved in narco trafficking and money laundering
    • Identification of value chain
    • Improvement and strengthening capacity of institutions to detect, report, and control illicit financial operations
    • Investigations
    • Culture against money-laundering
    • Strategy for the effective implementation
  • Control of supplies
  • Strategy to combat corruption
  • International conference and regional dialogue spaces


Related posts

Colombia’s government and ELN guerrillas agree to ceasefire

Deadly violence against Colombia’s social leaders persists

Colombia charges mining executives over terrorist financing