FBA supporting the peace process in Colombia

After lengthy negotiations, Colombia’s government and the left-wing guerrilla FARC have finally reached a peace agreement. A conflict spanning over five decades, having killed hundreds of thousands of people and created millions of internally displaced persons, is coming to an end. The FBA has supported the peace process throughout the years.

During the 1960s Colombia saw the birth of a number of communist guerrilla groups, among them FARC, dedicated to fight the government. Some of the smaller groups reached peace deals with the government during the 1990s. FARC, on the other hand, went on to become the most important group with a presence in large parts of the country. The conflict between FARC and the government of Colombia intensified.

FBA’s involvement in Colombia began during the 2000s, through the provision of advice and support for the Colombian Agency for Reintegration (ACR), focused on reintegration of demobilized groups and individuals.

When the peace talks between FARC and the Colombian government were initiated in Cuba in October 2012, FBA’s support for the Colombian peace process was reinforced.

– A large number of people playing significant roles in the peace process in Cuba, mainly representatives from Colombian government agencies, have participated in FBA’s DDR courses. We have arranged courses in Sweden, but also trainings in Colombia, says Hans Thorgren. He is Head of the FBA’s DDR programme – DDR as in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.

On 24 August news broke that there was a breakthrough in the negotiations in Cuba. The peace deal was finalized, the parties had reached an agreement.

– It is a historic agreement, four years of negotiations finally paid off. It also illustrates how peace work is a long-term effort, Hans says and points to the fact that peace processes are lengthy by nature.

Now the process continues at the ballot box. A national referendum on the peace deal will be held on 2 October. Thereafter the implementation of the agreement can hopefully begin.

– There are still numerous challenges to the creation of long-term peace and stability in Colombia, and there are still other armed groups. But the development is without doubt positive, and at the FBA we look forward to continue supporting the peace-building process in Colombia, Hans concludes.

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Click here to read more about the FBA’s work on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants (DDR).

Photo: UN Photo/Gill Fickling

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Stefan Åström

Stefan Åström is expert on Latin America and disarmament of ex-combatants

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