Achieving a bilateral ceasefire in the early phase of negotiations should be a top priority at the peace talks between the government, the armed forces and FARC, said the International Crisis Group Tuesday.
In a briefing titled “Colombia: Peace at Last?”, the International Crisis Group (ICG), an NGO which focuses on the resolution of violent conflicts around the world, called on all parties to, “achieve a bilateral ceasefire in an early phase of negotiations.” ICG argued military restraint from both sides was critical to minimising risk of destabilising the peace talks.
The vocal “Colombians for Peace” organization echoed a similar sentiment Tuesday, when it urged the Colombian government and their guerrilla adversaries, “to consider again the need for a ceasefire and hostilities and grant a special agreement based on humanitarian law.”
Another central recommendation of the report was to make the peace process inclusive. It argued the Colombian government needs to, “Ensure civil society ownership and effective buy-in to the peace process… Involve key political decision-makers as negotiations advance…and to ensure the buy-in of the security forces.”
At present, the political manoeuvrings by senior representatives of FARC and the Santos administration have received the greatest media attention. Yet by involving a wider section of society, ICG argued it would broaden support for the process and, “minimise the potential influence of spoilers.”
The report also made clear that Colombia cannot achieve peace unassisted. It contended the international community, “will need to stand by Colombia throughout, including as it takes up the challenges of a post-conflict society.” The ICG identified Norway, Cuba, Venezuela and Chile as particularly important facilitators.
Negotiations between the Santos administration and FARC begin in Oslo, on October 8. The last formal attempt at a negotiated peace ended in 2002 during the presidency of Andres Pastrana (1998-2002).