The End of FARC and The Beginnings of Peace

The End of FARC and The Beginnings of Peace

This article is part of a series that will be released before the end of 2015, drawing from The Contour‘s annual print issue titled Upheaval, Revolution & Tragedy: The World of 2015, which can be found online at The Contour: Print Edition

A September peace deal may soon resolve the world’s longest-running war– a bloody, decades-long civil conflict waged between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  This violence has contributed to the world’s highest proportional internal displacement and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

courtesy of Jan Sochor Photography, from Forgotten Exodus: Colombia Displaced
courtesy of Jan Sochor Photography, from Forgotten Exodus: Colombia Displaced

After a 10-year civil war (1948-1958) between the Colombian Conservative and Liberal Parties which saw over 200,000 deaths, the Colombian Communist Party organized protests and demonstrations, advocating for land reform and attacking state military forces.  The resulting government crackdown led Communist leaders to establish the FARC as a militaristic guerilla movement, which quickly grew in size and continued to carry out numerous assaults on military and police forces throughout the following decades.

The FARC have drawn international criticism for its illegal practices and potential human rights violations.  The group receives the majority of its funding via taxes on the illegal drug trade, which it supplements with money earned from kidnappings, robberies, and extortion.  Numerous organizations, such as the UN, Amnesty International, and the Human Rights Watch, have also accused the group of recruiting child soldiers, executing civilians, and murdering indigenous populations that resist their territorial expansion.  The governments of Colombia, the United States, Chile, Canada, New Zealand, and the EU classify the FARC as a terrorist organization.

Diplomatic relations have repeatedly faltered throughout the course of the conflict, but negotiators resumed active peace talks in 2012, successfully negotiating temporary ceasefires and securing the release of civilian hostages and political prisoners.  International support in the past several years has led to the creation of the current proposal, which resolves to officially end the conflict through the establishment of a prosecutorial body and the implementation of several military and social reforms.

The primary peace documents of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace outline the creation of an independent tribunal that will investigate and adjudicate crimes related to the conflict.  Those who claim responsibility for their actions may avoid jail time, while those brought before trial may face prison sentences of up to 20 years.

The agreement furthermore requires that all participants in the conflict be brought before the Court, including Colombian state officials.  Government representatives have stated that they intend to take full responsibility for their own actions in the conflict.

After the signing of the final accord, FARC fighters will be required to cease all military activities within 60 days, finally bringing peace to the country and ending a frightening era of crime and violence that has profoundly impacted rural Colombian life.

The agreement also sets an international precedent through its use of an external adjudication process to justly resolve the crimes of both parties involved while prioritizing demilitarization and the needs of the Colombian people.

by Connor Duwan ’16