By Vanda Felbab-Brown and Anna Newby

After nearly 80 years of war, Colombia is on the cusp of closing a historic peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), the country’s largest guerrilla group. The parties have set a March 23, 2016 deadline to conclude talks. Drug cultivation and trafficking are crucial aspects of the deal, as drug profits have long enabled the country’s violent conflict.

In a major breakthrough, the Colombian government and the FARC have agreed on a joint counternarcotics strategy. As it should be, developing alternative livelihoods—couched within a larger rural development plan—is core to the policy. 

What would a peace deal between the Colombian government and the FARC mean for drug production and routes? Production won’t disappear from the country any time soon, but sustained efforts to improve rural livelihoods can pull Colombians away from coca production in the long run, while well-designed interdiction can reduce some of the harms, including violence, associated with drug trafficking.

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