With the stroke of a pen and a decisive vote by Colombia’s congress, the longest running conflict in the Western Hemisphere ended. On November 24, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londoño, commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, signed a peace agreement, and on November 30, Colombia’s congress approved the accord.
It was a difficult process, and a long time coming. Four years of difficult negotiations led to the first signing of an agreement in late September which both sides hoped would end Colombia’s 52-year internal conflict. But six days later, the Colombian people rejected the agreement by a narrow margin. Many voters felt it did not go far enough to hold FARC members accountable for their past actions.
So it was back to the negotiating table for both sides, where a revised version of the document was agreed upon. On November 30th, Colombia's congress voted to approve the revised accord. It now includes a requirement that FARC members declare and hand over all of their assets to pay for reparations to victims. FARC members must also declare the full truth about their involvement in drug–trafficking. The agreement further defined the restrictions of liberty for those who committed crimes against humanity, and it clarified that the accord will not be incorporated into Colombia’s constitution, as had been previously proposed.
“The United States welcomes the approval of the peace accord, which we believe will help achieve a just and lasting peace for all Colombians,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.
“The Colombian people deserve enormous credit for their persistence, commitment, and focus in this endeavor. Special recognition must go to President Juan Manuel Santos, who has earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts,” he said.
“Our Paz Colombia initiative, aimed at supporting continued institutional development, aiding conflict victims, removing landmines, combating narcotics, and addressing remaining security issues, is designed to help our Colombian partners achieve the lasting peace that they have fought so hard for, and that they so richly deserve.”