Colombians have asked the European Union to “demand” that Colombia’s government allows citizens to get involved in peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, reported Spanish news agency EFE.
Several rights organization turned to Europe’s executive board to seek support for a more broader peace process than the one held between delegates of the government and guerrillas.
“The peace talks are progressing, slowly, but the connection between negotiating over the armed conflict and peace building, and how to involve civil society is not making progress,” Leopoldo Munera of the Bogota-based National University told press.
“Because there is no process of peace building there is no involvement of victims,” the academic said.
This absence of peace building and the tackling of issues fueling conflict is a risk for a successful end to the peace talks, said Vincent Vallies of the The International Office for Human Rights / Action on Colombia, a European NGO promoting human and civil rights in the South American country.
“There will be no real peace building without a change in the political structures that provoked this inequality in Colombia,” said Vallies.
Things the NGOs consider a number of issues crucial to successfully ending the peace talks; reconsidering free trade pacts made with trade partners like the US, the reduction of state violence in response to democratically organized protests, guaranteeing the safety of human rights workers and an effective prosecution of war crimes committed by the parties involved.
Unless these things are tackled, “there will be no real peace.”
The peace talks, held in the Cuban capital of Havana, have not allowed the direct involvement of civil society. However, both the government and the FARC have promoted taking part in regionally organized forums aimed at increasing citizen participation in the peace talks.