Colombia will reconstruct a National Peace Council allowing civilian organizations to indirectly take part in a peace process with guerrilla group FARC that is set to begin in October.
Lawmakers made the announcement after a meeting between President Juan Manuel Santos and members of the peace commissions of the Senate and House of Representatives.
“The president of the Republic accepted a peace council … in order for civil society to take part [in the peace process] and … all sectors of civil society can come up with proposals and accompany the process,” Senator Carlos Baena (Mira) told press after the meeting.
According to Senate President Roy Barreras (U Party), it is important to first restructure the 1998 decree convoking a National Peace Council because the old decree is “outdated” and contains entities that no longer exists and victims rights groups are not represented. According to Barreras, the president promised to update the decree.
The National Peace Council as designed in 1998 consists of the president, representatives from the legislative and judicial branches, supervisory bodies, and representatives from the country’s economic, social and political sectors. The council is to meet every two months to discuss the peace process and allow civilian organizations to give input of the actual peace talks that will be held exclusively between representatives of the state, employers and the FARC.
The formal peace talks are scheduled to begin on October 8 in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. The talks are the fourth attempt to find a negotiated solution to Colombia’s 48-year-old armed conflict. The last round of talks failed in 2002.