After four years of up-and-down negotiations, the Colombian government and rebel FARC guerrillas signed a peace agreement in November 2016. To implement it, the country must now deploy major financial, institutional and human resources to address the inequalities that sustained the conflict for five decades. Working on the conflict since 2002, Crisis Group has published more than 36 reports and briefings and had over 500 meetings with all parties. We monitor deal implementation and carry out field research on issues ranging from local corruption to drug trafficking and local institutions. We are well-positioned to influence all stakeholders in the peace process in order to support sustainable and inclusive peace efforts in Colombia.
Colombia’s 2016 peace accord has brought over 10,000 FARC fighters to the cusp of civilian life, but in their wake rival armed groups are battling for control of vacated territory and lucrative coca crops. In order to roll back booming drug production and expanding non-state groups, the Colombian government should provide local farmers with alternative livelihoods while developing grassroots security and local governance.
UN 8 Nov called upon all actors to respect bilateral ceasefire between govt and National Liberation Army (ELN), initiated 1 Oct, which has proceeded with limited violations, mostly by western war front. ELN 17 Nov admitted killing in Chocó at least one other civilian accused of being “paramilitary”. Govt and ELN conducted four rounds of public consultations with civil society organisations 30 Oct-16 Nov on social participation mechanisms for peace process with ELN. FARC dissident groups continued to carry out violent actions, especially in south west: in Tumaco, gunmen 13 Nov killed local community leader from Catholic church in Viento Libre neighbourhood; fighting 27 Nov between FARC dissident faction known as United Guerrillas of the Pacific (GUP) and ELN reportedly led to at least thirteen deaths and disappearances in south-western Nariño, including death of local community leader. Attacks by Gulf Clan remain minimal. Govt tried to pass final pieces of peace-related legislation through fast-track mechanism, which expired 30 Nov: Constitutional Court 14 Nov said bill establishing Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) operating procedures was constitutional, despite violating international responsibility standards for human rights violations, which has prompted concern from FARC and others. Court also said politicians, civilians and other third-party actors can participate “voluntarily” in transitional justice process. Congress 30 Nov passed bill to create and regulate SJP; bill to create sixteen special constituencies in Lower House for areas affected by conflict failed to secure approval in Senate.
Revised and ratified after its shock rejection in October 2016’s referendum, Colombia’s peace agreement still lacks sustainable political support. Reversing public distrust will need swift and effective implementation of the accord – including full apologies for past crimes and the visible handover of weapons by insurgents.
To convert August’s historic peace deal into a durable end to 52 years of conflict, the government and FARC rebels must redouble efforts to achieve a full cessation of hostilities, a successful plebiscite, and UN-monitored ceasefire and weapons handover process.
Recent advances have given Colombia’s peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) a much-needed respite, but, amid an escalation of violence, the risks of an involuntary collapse are real. Saving the process requires conflict de-escalation, swift progress on the agenda and rallying popular support.
As they move toward a final peace agreement, the negotiators of the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) face the challenge of laying out a credible path for guerrilla fighters to abandon arms and reintegrate into society.
Bringing the National Liberation Army (ELN) into the current round of negotiations is vital for durable peace.
La realidad socioeconómica de Colombia no ha cambiado desde la firma del acuerdo [sobre sustitución de la coca formalizado en 2014]. Existen grupos armados interesados en controlar la coca, la minería ilegal o la extorsión.
Antes de[l pacto de alto el] fuego con el gobierno [colombiano], que termina en enero, el [Ejército de Liberación Nacional] se estaba expandiendo hacia nuevas regiones, como el área del Pacífico. Es parte de una estrategia para ganar cierto poder en la mesa de negociación.
[Colombian armed groups] offer quite an outlet for frustrated Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members, for whom the peace agreements are not living up to expectations.
There is a [...] belief in Colombia that if you are an illegal armed group without a particular ideology, fighting the state would be enough to pressure the government into entering a peace process.
For the FARC, the subject of money has always touched a nerve. If it's shown they have a lot of wealth, it adds fuel to the narrative that they are simply drug traffickers.
[The FARC rebel leader] “Pollo” wanted to return to the peace process since at least January, and in March he submitted a list of 333 dissident militia members who wanted to surrender.
Over the last seven years, the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has worked strenuously to dissociate the country from its image as a cocaine exporter. In 2016, Santos struck a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the guerrilla group that for years stood watch over coca farms and had become the wholesaler and arbiter of the cocaine trafficking business.
Originally published in Foreign Affairs
One of the most pressing security threats in Colombia following the signing of the the FARC peace agreement is fighting between armed groups trying to gain control over territories and illegal business, such as coca production, previously dominated by the FARC. In this video, Senior Analyst for Colombia Kyle Johnson and Latin America Program Director Ivan Briscoe highlight main findings of Crisis Group's report Colombia’s Armed Groups and the Fight for the Spoils of Peace.
In this video, our Senior Analyst for Colombia, Kyle Johnson, highlights the main findings of Crisis Group’s report “In the Shadow of “No”: Peace after Colombia’s Plebiscite”. Johnson argues that rebuilding Colombian public’s trust will need swift and effective implementation of the revised peace agreement - including full apologies for past crimes and the visible handover of weapons by insurgents.
Since Colombia ratified a revised peace accord to end the country’s long insurgency, FARC rebels have moved rapidly to ad hoc cantonment sites where they will demobilise under UN supervision. But the FARC leadership’s commitment to the deal is under pressure from disparate elements in its rank and file.
Originally published in Colombia Reports