“The Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research (SCSR) has released a policy brief entitled ‘Ending Colombia’s Internal Conflict: Prospects for Peace with the FARC and Beyond’.
The policy brief was prepared following a half-day workshop held on 28 January, organised together with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), which brought together academics and senior stakeholders to discuss the progress of the Colombian peace process.
The brief has been translated into Spanish and will be disseminated simultaneously in both the UK and Colombia.
Since October 2012, the government of Juan Manuel Santos and senior representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been discussing a negotiated solution to almost half a century of armed conflict in Colombia. The peace process remains dynamic and highly uncertain, and, despite cautious optimism, the establishment of a meaningful peace agreement is by no means guaranteed.
The authors of the briefing, Dr Andrei Gomez-Suarez, Associate Researcher in International Relations and member of SCSR and Matt Ince of RUSI (formerly of the University of Sussex), make several recommendations to the Santos-FARC negotiators:
- Complement the Santos-FARC negotiations with a sustained effort at combating organised criminal groups, the so-called ‘bandas criminales’.
- Ensure meaningful civil society participation in the peace process, especially the participation of rural and indigenous communities.
- Strengthen the current process of institutional reform, and introduce international monitors to verify implementation of the Victims and Land Restitution Law and the eventual ceasefire.
- Adopt an appropriate mechanism for transitional justice that includes prosecutions, reparations and conditional amnesties.
- Create a specialised unit to protect former FARC combatants and include members of armed forces, police, intelligence services, and former FARC combatants.
- Don’t raise expectations of the peace process unnecessarily.
Dr Gomez-Suarez says: “The Santos-FARC peace talks are more likely to succeed if the attempts at structural reform are complemented by activities such as building up a strong civil society platform for peace which helps to keep the spirits of Colombian society high if the talks last longer than expected.
“Moreover, the Santos administration should work towards dismantling alliances between illegal and legal actors perpetrating criminal and political motivated violence. Finally, the setting up of a specialized protection force should be considered to safeguard the lives of FARC-demobilised members who decide to participate in politics.”