The 1996 Guatemalan Peace Accords, which brought an end to the country’s decades-long civil war, envisioned comprehensive legal, political, economic and social reforms to overcome the root causes of the armed conflict. However, weak state institutions and lack of political will hindered their implementation. Deep social inequalities, structural discrimination, drug trafficking, organized crime and gangs continue to foster violence, placing Guatemala among the countries with the highest murder rate in the world. In 2015, Guatemala suffered a severe political and institutional crisis that shook the foundations of the Guatemalan society, when a series of corruption scandals unveiled by the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Public Prosecutor’s Office brought to light long-established corruption networks entrenched in state institutions.
PBF Investments in Guatemala
Total allocation: $29 million invested since 2011
Current portfolio: $13 million
- Support to judiciary system and Rule of Law
Partners: UNDP, UN Women, UNODC, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO, OHCHR, FAO, UNHCR, IOM, Mercy Corps
The UN Secretary-General declared Guatemala eligible to access the Peacebuilding Fund in 2011 to build the country’s capacity to implement aspects of the 1996 peace agreement, particularly in the area of rule of law.
The presence of CICIG reflected the United Nations’ commitment to supporting peacebuilding in Guatemala, and the PBF financed activities of the UN Country Team (UNCT) as a way to buttress CICIG’s work through capacity-building of national institutions.
Current PBF support to Guatemala aims at addressing key peacebuilding needs and gaps concerning rule of law, particularly transitional justice and criminal investigations capacities, as well as social conflict and the need for increased dialogue.
In light of recent events involving high-impact corruption cases brought to justice, the PBF is engaging closely with the UNCT in Guatemala to explore how it can help strengthen specialized units of the General Prosecutor’s Office as well as for the strengthening of civil society’s monitoring and auditing of policy reform processes.
PBF also recently allocated USD 2 million through its Gender Promotion Initiative to expand support to women survivors of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence who seek justice and transformative reparations. Women’s leadership and national networks will also be bolstered to enable a stronger policy and agenda-setting role for structural change.
In late 2017 PBF’s approved its first regional project in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, focusing on three key areas that require immediate responses: strengthening mechanisms for social and economic reintegration for migrants upon return; strengthening mechanisms for the protection and prevention of violence; and complementing the civilian security policy with actions to promote social inclusion, the strengthening of the administration of justice, and the exchange of information between the countries on lessons-learned.