Juliana Tappe Ortiz (MPhil, 2017-19) offer a summary of her thesis: From Hawk to Dove? Juan Manuel Santos’ transition from hard-line defence minister to peace-promoting president

juliana tappe

Much has been written on why states go to war. However, less has been written about why states make peace. This is particularly the case for long-standing conflicts in which the opposing leaders hold seemingly irreconcilable positions. For over half a century, Colombia has been entangled in a bitter conflict between the government and different guerrilla movements. In 2012, after months of secret talks, President Juan Manuel Santos initiated formal peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. He signed an agreement in 2016, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. However, Santos did not always appear as a promoter of peace. Before his presidency, he was a hard-line defence minister under President Álvaro Uribe, leading the heaviest attacks against the FARC in Colombian history. It is unknown how his transition – from hawk to dove – can be interpreted. This thesis argues that Santos never transitioned from hawk to dove. He was a pragmatist with a strong predisposition towards negotiations who understood that weakening the FARC was a necessary step at the time. However, this did not change that he was convinced that only a political dialogue would finally lead to peace.