With the Colombian government announcing a final agreement with the FARC guerrilla movement to end a five-decade long conflict, the final decision to approve the agreement will be in the hands of the country’s voters in an Oct. 2 referendum – and in the hands of the rank-and-file of FARC.

A team of professors, including a former Carter Center Americas Program director, at Georgia State University has analyzed Colombian public opinions about the justice mechanisms included in the agreement. And they’ve found that voters – who want peace but don’t agree on the specifics – will need to be educated about the details of the agreement in order for the referendum to pass.

“The public wants peace, but are not united on the compromises reached that will allow guerrillas who committed human rights crimes to receive reduced sentences, outside of jail, and to eventually run for political office,” said Jennifer McCoy, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Georgia State, and a former director of the Americas Program at The Carter Center.

“The campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum will be intense, but our research indicates that educating the public about the specifics can increase support, and will be essential to gain popular legitimacy and ensure a sustainable peace,” she continued.

Research by McCoy, as well as colleague Ryan Carlin, associate professor and director of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy at Georgia State, examined the peace process in Colombia, and McCoy’s newest research project seeks to determine the causes, consequences and solutions to polarized societies around the world, including Venezuela, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, Hungary, Greece, Bangladesh – and the United States.

At The Carter Center, McCoy created the group of Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter group; directed The Carter Center’s projects on Mediation and Monitoring in Venezuela 2002-2004, Ecuador-Colombia Dialogue Group 2008-2010, and U.S.-Andean Dialogue Group 2010-2011.

She has led over a dozen election monitoring missions and organized former President Jimmy Carter’s historic trips to Cuba in 2002 and 2011. McCoy is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations; member of the International Women’s Forum; and co-chair of the Atlanta chapter of the Scholar’s Strategy Network.

For more information about McCoy, visit http://politicalscience.gsu.edu/profile/jennifer-mccoy-2-4/. For more about Carlin, visit http://shared.cas.gsu.edu/profile/ryan-carlin-2/. Those who are not registered with the Newswise system may contact Jeremy Craig at [email protected] for further assistance.