Colombia has been officially at peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since signing a 2016 peace deal with the group. In the last year, Colombia has taken significant steps to implement the Peace Accord, noted U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations. Sixteen seats for victims of the conflict have been established in Colombia’s House of Representatives. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace, or JEP, issued 34 indictments against FARC and Colombian military officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The JEP has also received information and acknowledgments by members of the FARC and military that they engaged in atrocities and abuses.
Five years into the accord, around 13,000 former FARC combatants remain committed to peace. Their commitment has been complemented by the government’s provision of economic and social benefits, as the majority of these ex-combatants are now able to access government and financial services: 99 percent are enrolled in Colombia’s health care system, 95 percent have bank accounts, and over 30 percent have enrolled in educational programs or vocational training.
“We also note,” said Ambassador DeLaurentis, “that the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court closed its preliminary examination into Colombia. As the ICC’s preliminary examination had been open since 2004, these actions by the Prosecutor demonstrate increased confidence in Colombia’s transitional justice institutions.”
On November 30, the United States announced the lifting of its terrorist designation of the FARC. “However, we remain vigilant against those who threaten Colombia’s peace and refuse to lay down their arms,” warned Ambassador DeLaurentis. “Accordingly, the United States has designated Segunda Marquetalia and FARC-EP, comprised heavily of FARC dissidents who have abandoned or rejected the peace process, as terrorist organizations.”
While Colombia has made progress to date, there remains room for improvement. Ethnic communities face a deteriorating security situation, with indigenous communities and Afro-Colombians being disproportionately victimized by the violence. Moreover, inadequate security and judicial protections have threatened land reform, voluntary coca substitution, and landmine clearing.
By working together, the government and people of Colombia can ensure the protection and promotion of human rights for Colombia’s most vulnerable groups. “It is vital that Colombia succeed in these efforts,” said Ambassador DeLaurentis, “and we know that with renewed effort, such success is possible.”