In Colombia we provided advice on process design, covering especially how to ensure meaningful and effective inclusion in the process and how to manage setbacks. We also provided substantial input for shaping civil society consultations.
Our contribution to the peace processes in Colombia with the government, the FARC, and the ELN between 2015 and 2017 largely related to process design, how to ensure meaningful and effective inclusion in the process, and how to manage setbacks. We were able to influence the way the negotiating parties understood inclusion and facilitated the broader participation of societal and political actors.
Negotiations between the Colombian Government and the FARC began in 2012, largely taking place in Havana, with a final agreement reached in August 2016. However, ratification of the agreement was rejected in a referendum in October 2016. A revised agreement was signed in November 2016 and ratified by Congress. Implementation of the agreement has faced a number of challenges, particularly involving socio-economic reintegration of former combatants, but significant progress has been made.
Secret talks between the Colombian Government and the ELN began in 2014 to define an agenda for a formal negotiation process. The parties announced their intention to begin formal negotiations in 2016 in Quito with the publication of a vague agenda, but the start of the talks was delayed until February 2017 due to disagreement over hostage release. Progress was slow but the parties agreed on a ceasefire beginning in October 2017. Talks were suspended in January 2018, when the ELN broke the ceasefire with a series of attacks.
For the FARC process we provided substantial input for shaping both the civil society consultations during the peace negotiations between the Colombian Government and the FARC, and the creation of participation mechanisms for the implementation agenda of the agreements. We also provided strategic advice to the Colombian Government on how to gain public support for the plebiscite on the agreement. This led to increased endeavours by the government to campaign for a yes-vote, a significant element of the process (albeit manifestly too late in the day to ensure a “yes” vote). After the rejection of the peace agreement by plebiscite, we provided direct advice to the President’s office on re-structuring the peace talks to include all factions at the national and regional levels.
For the ELN talks, we provided proposals for the negotiation agenda for the 2017 ELN talks and the implementation of the participation design.
We also worked with the Catholic Church of Colombia in shaping its civil society peacebuilding strategy and activities.
During this period, international partner governments we worked with included Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and the US.