The Colombian government will start peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) at the end of this October. The talks are to be held in the Ecuadorian capital Quito and supported by several Latin-American governments, plus Norway and Cuba. PAX welcomes this step taken by the government and the rebel group.
These negotiations should contribute to a stable and sustainable peace in a country that has been ravaged by armed conflict. Conducting peace talks with ELN at the same time as negotiating with FARC demonstrates that the government is continuing to pursue its peace objectives, despite the disappointing rejection by the Colombian people of the agreement reached with FARC. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Santos provides additional encouragement.
Giving hope to the ELN peace process are the announcements by the rebel group that it will free all hostages and by the government that it will release all ELN members currently imprisoned. PAX will continue to follow the negotiations and to press the case that the rights of the victims – on fact-finding, justice, restoration and prevention of recurrence – act as a guide to both parties.