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News > Latin America

Colombia: Notre Dame Study Identifies Major Issues with Peace Efforts

  • Opposition sectors marched to demand life and peace as Duque was sworn in.

    Opposition sectors marched to demand life and peace as Duque was sworn in. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 August 2018

The implementation of the peace accords in Colombia has shown slow progress on structural change and institutional reform according to study.

The Colombian government and the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have “advanced” in the implementation of the Peace Accords signed in 2016. However, according to a study by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, there is “lack of progress in areas that are critical to the construction of a quality peace.”

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On Thursday the Institute published its second report on the State of Implementation of the Colombian Peace Agreement, which tracks implementation progress between December 2016 and May 2018.   

The report recognizes progress, especially on short-term goals such as the ceasefire, cantonment, laying down of arms and the transformation of the FARC into a political party with congressional representation.

Ten seats in Congress are currently reserved for the members of the newly formed Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC). However, only eight were sworn in on July 21 because one representative, Jesus Santrich, was detained after being accused by the United States of participating in a drug trafficking network, and another, Ivan Marquez, refused to take his seat in the Senate as a form of protest against the violation of the peace accords, arguing there are no judicial guarantees for the demobilized guerrillas.

The report also highlights three main problems in the implementation process that “could lead to setbacks and reversals in the months ahead.”

“The process has now entered the more difficult phase of achieving rural reform, advancing economic development, enhancing citizen participation, reincorporating former fighters, substituting crops of illicit use, addressing the concerns of victims, and providing mechanisms for transitional justice,” the report states.

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The three mains issues are inadequate guarantees for security and community protection, the absence of a robust long-term reincorporation strategy for ex-combatants, and lack of progress on the regulatory framework to ensure citizen participation.

Since the peace accords were signed, over 400 social and community leaders have been murdered by armed groups and hitmen. In many cases, the state has failed to protect those, who have requested protection due to ongoing threats.  

“A lack of viable options for the effective civilian reincorporation of ex-combatants in a context of incentives for illegality could undermine the peace process and prompt some former fighters to return to armed violence,” the report warns. That would greatly debilitate the possibility of sustainable peace.

The report argues “greater progress is needed in legislation and regulation related to strengthening the policy for democratic and participatory planning, guarantees and promotion of citizen participation, and guarantees for social protest and mobilization.”

Progress is not likely during the government of newly-elected president Ivan Duque, who was a staunch detractor of the peace accords, which he claimed were too lenient on former FARC members.  

In July, Duque announced Guillermo Botero would be Colombia’s defense minister. Botero has revealed he is planning to “regulate” anti-government protests by only allowing demonstrations if authorities previously approve them. This has sparked concern among Duque’s political opposition and social activists.

Borja Paladini, the representative of the Kroc Institute in Colombia, stressed the importance of approving an alternative legal framework for small coca growers. “If it is not approved there is great judicial insecurity” for those Campesinos who want participate in voluntary crop substitution, Paladini said Thursday.  

Finally, the report also mentions concerns over the changes made to Special Jurisdiction for Peace and delays on a comprehensive rural reform. Two critical aspects of the peace accords.

The second report on the State of Implementation of the Colombia Peace Agreement was presented to the Commission for Monitoring, Promoting and Verifying the Implementation of the Final Agreement on July 2, 2018.

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