FARC peace talks conclude with comprehensive agreement

By bogotapost August 24, 2016
comprehensive agreement, Colombia peace talks, Colombia peace agreement

The two chief negotiators, from the government Humberto de la Calle, and Iván Márquez of the Farc, exchange a handshake on the occasion of signing the final agreement in Havana today August 24. Photo: presidencia.gov.co

The delegations of the FARC and the Colombian government have reached a comprehensive agreement on all the points on the agenda of the peace talks that began in November 2012

Wednesday’s announcement also confirms that the country will hold a plebiscite on Sunday, October 2, when the nation will have the opportunity to approve or reject the deal.

This set of commitments covers five key points that have taken almost four years to negotiate and – assuming the agreement is approved by the Colombian people – will mark the end of over 50 years of conflict.

Colombia’s half a century of fighting has left millions displaced, hundreds of thousands dead and tens of thousands missing.

President Juan Manuel Santos followed the announcement with an emotional address to the nation.

“Since the beginning of the peace process, I have said that the process will follow one principle: ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’,” said Santos. “Well, the day has arrived.

“Today we can say – at last – that everything is agreed.”

Tomorrow (Thursday, August 25) the agreement will be sent to Congress, and the full text will be shared with the country in preparation for a vote in just under six weeks time.

The agreement promises to open a new chapter in Colombian history, promising a transition phase that “contributes to greater integration of our territories and greater social inclusion, especially for those who have lived on the margins of development and suffered during the conflict”.

Lucas Peña, a sociologist and expert in conflict and security, told The Bogotá Post, “I’m happy to belong to the generation that was able to end the war against the FARC by means of negotiation. We Colombians should feel proud of the achievement of the peace agreement because it means the country can start a new and better era.”

He also believes that the deal has the potential to inspire other countries. “Colombia is probably the only good news of international conflict resolution, so it brings hope to the multilateral efforts to bring peace in the world.”

The negotiations have centred on the following issues:

Comprehensive rural reform – this aims to integrate rural areas, promote equality and help to eradicate poverty.

Political participation – the agreement includes direct guarantees for the FARC’s political participation, as well as clauses enabling “enriched debate and deliberation about major national issues”.

Complete bilateral ceasefire and abandonment of arms – the process by which the FARC will lay down their weapons and prepare to re-enter civilian life. This section of the agreement also contains clauses regarding the fight against paramilitary organisations that may threaten the ceasefire.

Illicit drugs – this point was agreed early on in the process, but was given new meaning this July when the FARC and the government began a pilot joint crop replacement programme. It means that the two sides will work together to tackle the production and sale of illicit crops.

Victims agreement – this point had been central to the discussions, and is perhaps the most controversial part of the agreement. In December last year the announcement of a system for “Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition” marked a real step forward in the negotiations. The agreement lays out a process for the creation of a Jurisdiction for Peace, by which those responsible for crimes can accept responsibility for what has been done, participate in the truth and reparation process and serve non-prison sentences.

Implementation and verification – this is the process by which the peace agreement will be monitored and implemented, including a tripartite system involving the FARC, the government and external international monitors.

The following weeks will likely bring a marked increase in the campaigns both for and against the agreement, as so much will now rest on the public vote on October 2.