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Mediating criminal violence: Lessons from the gang truce in El Salvador.

Whitfield, Teresa
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Oslo Forum Papers N°001 – June 2013. Geneva: Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

This paper has been written while the outcomes of the gang
truce in El Salvador are still unfolding. It suggests that the
truce has been imperfectly managed and remains fragile,
but is also a considerable achievement. Lessons that may
be derived from it are limited by the specific characteristics
and circumstances of the Salvadoran gangs. Yet, they merit
consideration for several reasons. The Salvadoran truce,
and the arrival in Mexico of a government determined to
address the country’s spiralling violence, much of which
is exacerbated by competition for the gains of the illicit
economy and drug trade, have placed new emphasis on
alternative paths to pacification. More broadly, counter-narcotics policies that for decades have been framed as
a “war on drugs” are being challenged, most recently in
a groundbreaking report by the Organization of American
States (OAS) that specifically addresses – among other
issues – “the violence and suffering associated with the
drug problem” in the Americas.2
Elsewhere, national and
international actors are struggling to craft and implement
responses to organised violence and crime in situations
in which criminal activities have developed as a result of
unresolved conflict grievances (in South Africa, Northern
Ireland and Kosovo, for example), or where they seek
to shape electoral politics (in Kenya, Jamaica and the
Solomon Islands), or where they hide behind grievances
which are fuelling armed conflict (in Colombia, Mali and
Myanmar to name but three examples). They, too, can
benefit from the lessons and questions that emerge from
the Salvadoran experience. (excerpt)


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