Peace Accords in 1996 brought to an official close the Civil War in Guatemala, the longest-running conflict in the Americas that caused the deaths of some 200,000 people. Furthermore, the official truth commission into the conflict mandated by the Peace Accords found that acts of genocide were committed by the Guatemalan Army against the indigenous Mayan population. The Peace Accords have successfully ended the fighting, but Guatemala is still struggling to implement the changes necessary to build a sustainable peace; many of the causes of the conflict identified by the commission remain strongly present today, including high levels of inequality and poverty, racism against the Maya population, and impunity for human rights violations remain. As a result, levels of violence remain extremely high, with over 6,500 murders in 2009 for a country with a population of 14 million people – more than twice the murder rate of Mexico, and one of the highest in the world. The violent death rate is actually currently higher that for much of the period of the armed conflict.
Civil society was active in Guatemala even throughout the conflict, and played an important role in the build up to the Peace Accords. In particular, Mayan groups have a strong record of organising themselves. Peacebuilding groups in Guatemala are at the centre of the struggle to achieve the sustainable and just peace that the Peace Accords have so far failed to deliver.