Friday, December 12, 2014

Colombia: The Day after Tomorrow - Colombia’s FARC and the End of the Conflict

Source: International Crisis Group
The Day after Tomorrow: Colombia’s FARC and the End of the Conflict

As they move toward a final peace agreement, the negotiators of the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) face the challenge of laying out a credible path for guerrilla fighters to abandon arms and reintegrate into society. 

Talks to end five decades of civil conflict in Colombia have seen unprecedented progress. But negotiators still need to agree on arguably the most sensitive point on their agenda: a bilateral ceasefire, the “leaving behind of weapons” (or disarmament) and the reintegration of FARC members. In its latest report, The Day after Tomorrow: Colombia’s FARC and the End of the Conflict, the International Crisis Group examines which guarantees will be needed so that both sides can trust the future agreement. The stakes could not be higher. If FARC’s transition to civilian life fails or is incomplete, more violence could ensue, posing threats to the political legitimacy of the entire peace accord.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
  • To win public faith in the talks and break the ground for a definitive ceasefire, both parties need to de-escalate the confrontation and build mutual confidence. This requires FARC to end attacks on social and economic infrastructure as well as to end child recruitment, and the government to improve the situation of jailed FARC members.
  • Following a final agreement, the process must quickly produce tangible results. A bilateral ceasefire should go into effect immediately. Disarmament should begin as soon as the agreement is ratified, together with the implementation of its key provisions, including transitional justice and rural development.
  • The process should be supported by interim measures to stabilise the territories that have a guerrilla presence. Only a balanced offer for long-term reintegration will convince combatants to lay down weapons and generate wide public support. This is best achieved by making FARC co-responsible for the reintegration by using its internal cohesion to help advance social, economic and political reinsertion.
  • It will be crucial to have security guarantees both for FARC members and to convince sceptics of the peace process that FARC is committed to abandoning arms and playing by the rules of democracy. Both parties should invite a robust international mission to monitor the ceasefire and disarmament, one that is autonomous enough to deal with setbacks and disputes. Possible international partners, such as the UN, the Organization of American States and the Union of South American Nations, should be involved early in the negotiations to ensure the mission can hit the ground running.
“Previous disarmament and reintegration programs have faltered over high violence, public indifference and timid international involvement”, says Christian Voelkel, Senior Analyst for Colombia/Andes. “A bolder and faster response is needed this time to set Colombia irreversibly on a path toward peace”.
“The conditions under which FARC will leave behind their weapons and reintegrate into society are sensitive issues in a country that remains deeply divided over the negotiations”, says Javier Ciurlizza, Latin America Program Director. “But with international support, the parties have the opportunity to lay the foundations for the construction of a durable peace in Colombia”.