New peace deal in Colombia raises some concerns

November 17, 2016

PAX welcomes the presentation of the new peace agreement between the government and the FARC in Colombia. With the new agreement, an end to more than fifty years of armed struggle is within reach. Although it took nearly four years of negotiations to reach this point, worries remain about the sustainability of the peace.

The new agreement emerged forty days after a majority of the Colombian population rejected an earlier version of the peace deal in a referendum. Following the rejection, conservative former president Alvaro Uribe proposed a series of changes to the agreement. Many of these changes have been included in the new agreement. According to the negotiations teams this represents an improvement on the earlier version. The new agreement is expected to be proposed to the Colombian Congress shortly.

PAX has concerns about the consequences of the modified agreement. Salient are the new provisions concerning transitional justice. The intended Peace Tribunal will operate for only ten years, and victims of violence can only apply to the court in the first two years. Moreover, the guarantees given to current landowners impede returning land to those who were driven away and are now internally displaced persons. Already experts and civil organizations have warned that these adjustments will lead to impunity for those accused of committing human rights abuses, and will interfere with the quest for truth, justice and reparations. Consequently, PAX sees pressure mounting on the durability of the peace agreement.

Once the agreement is translated into law and policy, it can be implemented beginning in 2017. PAX will continue to actively support victims of violence in their efforts for justice as well as scrutinize the implementation of the agreement in the coming years.    

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