Colombia. On October 9, the former guerrilla group FARC
(Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces) was registered as a
political party under the name Alternative General
Revolutionary Force with the same abbreviation (FARC).
peace agreement was embodied at a June 27 ceremony in Mesetas, southeastern Colombia, when President Juan Manuel
Santos symbolically handed over a machine gun to a shovel to
FARC leader Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londoño Echeverri.
Despite the peace agreement signed in 2016 and awarded
the Nobel Peace Prize to President Santos, the FARC is still
surrounded by a lot of skepticism. In particular, Germán
Vargas Lleras, leader of one of the coalition's parties,
questioned the FARC's intentions to be open with the
atrocities committed during the 50-year civil war. The
demobilization of the guerrillas proceeded, but the
readjustment of former soldiers was slower. Concerns were
also expressed that the number of FARC members who have not
accepted the peace agreement is as many as 1,000.
In Montecristi in neighboring Ecuador, negotiations were
held with the left guerrilla ELN (National Liberation Army),
the second major guerrilla group negotiating to lay down
arms, since February. In connection with the FARC and ELN
signing a joint official pledge where at the end of the
month to complete the peace process, some problems were also
highlighted. Among other things, it was pointed out that
arbitrary murders by local activists are still committed by
right-wing militia in the country and that several FARC
members were killed after the peace agreement was signed.
Especially in the province of Antioquia, paramilitary groups
continue to operate and in September the government army
took several actions to neutralize them, including by
seizing several of the leaders.
However, President Santos was clear that there was no
return and that the peace process is continuing. His
restructuring program, which was launched during the year,
included creating jobs, infrastructure and educational
opportunities in the previously war-affected areas. The
optimism was favored by Pope Francis's five-day visit to the
country in early September, the first pope's visit in 31
years. In his speeches, he focused on the reconstruction
process rather than the peace treaty itself, and praised
President Santos for his efforts. The fact that something
new has occurred in Colombia was also shown by leaders of
FARC meeting in July with leaders of the now demobilized
paramilitary umbrella organization AUC (Colombia's United
Self-Defense), which FARC fought for decades,
However, other, old problems for Colombia were noted. For
example, reports from the US government and the UN in March
showed that cocaine cultivation in the country has increased
by as much as 42% since 2015. Overall, the increase meant a
potential increase in cocaine production by 60%. The reports
also talked about a forecast of further increase in 2016.
On April 1, the town of Mocoa in Putumayo Province was
hit by a catastrophic landslide with more than 260 dead. The
landslide occurred after extensive rainy weather which
caused the Mocoa River with tributaries to flood its banks.
The peace process with FARC-EP
In August 2012, it was announced that exploratory talks
had taken place between the Colombian government and the
FARC-EP guerrilla. The talks were organized by Norway and
Cuba, and led to a framework agreement for future peace
negotiations (Acuerdo Marco). This was not the
first time Norway participated in peace initiatives in
Colombia, but the attempts at peace negotiations in the
1990s and 2000s did not go ahead.
The official start of the negotiations was in Oslo and
Hurdal in October 2012, while the main negotiations took
place in Havana in Cuba from November 2012 to August 2016.
The framework agreement included six agenda items for the
negotiation, which were negotiated as partial agreements and
presented at different times:
- Policy for integrated agricultural development
(part-agreement May 2013).
- Political participation (part agreement November
- End of conflict (including ceasefire and ceasefire -
part agreement June 2016).
- Solution to the drug problem (part agreement May
- Victims' rights (part agreement December 2015).
- Implementation, verification and anchoring of the
agreement (part agreement June 2016).
The negotiating delegations were led by Humberto de la
Calle for the Colombian government and Rodrigo Londoño
(known as Timoleón Jiménez or Timochenko) for the FARC. The
government delegation included trusted politicians and
military representatives, while the FARC posed with the main
guerrilla leaders. Diplomat Dag Nylander led the Norwegian
work on the peace process.
Although the peace talks in Havana took place behind
closed doors, the process has been characterized by
inclusion and openness. The negotiators had a support system
consisting of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),
the National University and the Catholic Churchwho provided
technical assistance and coordination of support activities
on behalf of the negotiating parties. In connection with the
agenda item on victims 'rights, discussion forums and events
were organized in various parts of the country to gather
victims' experiences, opinions and suggestions. A website
was created to disseminate information on an ongoing basis,
as well as to gather suggestions from all Colombians and
social actors who wanted to participate. A total of 17,000
inputs were promoted through this channel. Five groups of
victims' representatives were invited to Havana in the fall
of 2014 to give their testimony to the negotiating
Commitment and support for the peace negotiations varied
over the four years they went on. Agenda item 1 on
integrated agricultural development and item 2 on political
participation emerged relatively quickly in May and November
2013, while the drug agreement sub-agreement was announced
in May 2014. Enthusiasm and expectations diminished somewhat
as the other agenda items awaited. The partial agreement on
the victims' rights from December 2015 was thus a
breakthrough, and gave new hope for a peace agreement. The
final and crucial agenda item was presented in June 2016,
the conflict settlement agreement, ceasefire and
demobilization, which also included the implementation and