Colombia is facing a crucial moment in its history. By signing the Peace Agreement in 2016 between the Government and the largest guerrilla group, Colombia brought to a formal end one of the longest civil wars in recent history and laid the basis for what the Nobel Committee called a “just peace”. The conflict lasted over five decades and caused immense suffering. It also damaged the credibility of state institutions, left deep scars in society and eroded the trust of the citizens in their government, especially in conflict-ridden rural areas. In the shadow of the conflict, systemic corruption, state capture and organised crime were able to spread and connect, further undermining the state’s legitimacy.

In spite of these challenges, Colombia has managed to maintain macroeconomic stability and has been able to build a strong democratic foundation through the 1991 Political Constitution of Colombia. Furthermore, over the last decade, the country has adopted and implemented important reforms to strengthen public policies, many of them triggered and supported by the process of the country’s path to accession to the OECD. These strengths will be invaluable assets in ensuring that peace is sustained and that Colombia continues its path towards stronger institutions and good governance.

However, experiences from post-conflict processes around the world highlight the dangers to enduring and sustainable peace of downplaying the risks of corruption. Implementing the Colombian Peace Agreement will require important financial investments, involve many actors, and take place in areas with weak state capacities. A lack of integrity in these processes could not only endanger their effectiveness, but could even lead to new conflict and the entrenchment of criminal actors. The Peace Agreement acknowledges this risk and calls for transparency and citizen oversight, but the Colombian integrity system will nonetheless face significant challenges over the next several years.

This Integrity Review takes an in-depth look at the Colombian public integrity system, focusing in particular on three aspects. First, it provides concrete recommendations on how to strengthen the institutional arrangements for steering integrity policies and ensuring co-ordination among key integrity actors at both national and sub-national levels, in particular the National Moralisation Commission, the Regional Moralisation Commissions and the Transparency Secretariat. Second, the review examines the current policies and practices for mainstreaming integrity policies throughout the Colombian public administration. More specifically, it provides policy recommendations and best practices on how to strengthen guidance on values and conflict of interest and ensure training, how to introduce integrity measures into human resource management, and how to improve the current asset declaration system. Third, the review analyses the framework and practices for risk management and internal control, crucial for accountability explicitly mentioned in the Peace Agreement. The Administrative Department of the Public Service plays a crucial role in cultivating a culture of integrity in the public administration and promoting risk management and internal control, but needs adequate human and financial resources to fulfil this fundamental mandate.

Overall, the recommendations of this Integrity Review not only seek to reinforce a comprehensive integrity system, but also to help strengthen Colombia’s resilience against conflict, sustain the country’s path towards a more inclusive and sustainable development, in and build trust in the legitimacy of the state.