PAX is delighted by the announcement that the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla movement have reached an accord for a definitive cease-fire. The accord was signed on Friday in Cuba, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in attendance.
This historic agreement ends 52 years of armed conflict. The two sides intend to negotiate a separate accord regarding disarming the estimated seven thousand remaining FARC militants and their safety.
A major opportunity, but also resistance
Even though various issues remain to be settled, little appears to stand in the way of a comprehensive peace accord. However, the implementation of such an accord may depend on public approval by way of a national referendum. That may prove challenging, given resistance from important sectors in Colombian society, led by former president Alvaro Uribe’s active campaigns against the accord. PAX hopes that all Colombians will seize the chance for peace with both hands, and that they will join forces to ensure reconciliation and reparation for the countless victims of the conflict.
Establishing the truth, recognition and compensation
This will necessitate the Colombian authorities assume a major responsibility. The millions of victims of the conflict have the right to establishing the truth, to recognition and to financial compensation for the suffering caused by the conflict. People driven from their land due to the conflict need to be given new land and farmers need support for the social economic development of the countryside. The international community has a major role to play. It must be prepared to commit to sustainable implementation of the accord, both politically and financially.
PAX is pleased with the clear signal that the Netherlands has given the Colombian government. Together with countries such as Norway and Switzerland, the Netherlands is working toward reparations for the victims. In addition, the Netherlands aims to include the responsibility of third parties (corporations, among others) for human rights abuses as an integral part of any potential Peace Tribunal. The Netherlands is thus setting a good example, which will hopefully be followed by many Colombians and international actors and will contribute to a lasting peace for all 48 million Colombians.