Peace mural in Bogata

In 2016, a peace deal was signed in Havana between the State of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ending more than 50 years of violent conflict. It was hailed as one of the most innovative peace negotiations in the world. It addressed critical issues such as land reform and drugs trafficking, placed the victims at the centre of the talks, and prepared for the post-agreement phase long before the final signing. By the summer of 2017, the FARC had decommissioned their weapons and in September of that year officially became a political party. 

However, implementation of the peace deal has faltered, sparking an announcement from former FARC combatants that they would once again take up arms. The video announcement was made by Iván Márquez, one of the top commanders of the former rebel group and chief negotiator during the peace talks. He accuses the government of betraying the peace agreement, in particular changes to the transitional justice system outlined in the peace deal, the slow implementation of rural reforms, and a failure to give temporary seats in Congress to representatives from the regions most impacted by the armed conflict. In the video Márquez also talks about the worrying number of assassinations of former FARC guerrillas, and of community leaders demanding the implementation of the peace agreement. The Colombian Ombudsman’s records show that 479 human rights defenders and community leaders were murdered in Colombia between January 2016 and April 2019. Likewise, more than 150 former FARC guerrillas have been killed since the Peace Agreement was signed. 

Peacebuilding is a process that takes time, and neither returning to war nor an iron fist are the most effective answers.
Michelle Bachelet
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

Importantly, the announcement has been rejected by the FARC political party, as well as the Colombian government, civil society groups and the international community. Rodrigo Londoño, President of the FARC political party, reaffirmed their commitment to the peace agreement, saying that 95 per cent of former guerrillas are involved in a reintegration process. The President of Colombia, Iván Duque, also declared his government’s commitment to support those former combatants who stay ‘within the law’.

Undoubtedly, Márquez’s announcement is a terrible blow to the peace process in Colombia, but it has once again highlighted the urgent need for the implementation of the peace agreement. The agreement’s negotiators, the UN, international observers and civil society groups and movements across Colombia have all called for renewed efforts to ensure the agreement is implemented. 

This requires the resolute commitment of the Colombian government as well as stronger support by the international community. As one of our partner organisations in Colombia, The Colombian Women Peace and Security Collective (Colectivo Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad) has stated, "the Peace Agreement is not only an agreement between the Colombian State and a former guerrilla. It, and other peacebuilding initiatives in the country, belong to all Colombians who want a more peaceful and inclusive society." 

This is also a moment to support and protect the former FARC combatants who remain committed to the peace process, as well as all community leaders and human rights defenders in Colombia who are demanding the implementation of the Peace Agreement. We should remember that the forthcoming local elections in the country substantially increase their security risks. 

At Conciliation Resources we are deeply concerned about the current situation, but we are also hopeful about the opportunities that this juncture can bring for renewed and coordinated efforts. 

Public statements from our Colombian Partners: