The first 12 months that follow a peace deal with FARC rebels will be crucial for peace in Colombia, the United Nations’ representative in the country said Monday, adding that mishandling post-conflict challenges could increase levels of violence.
The UN’s Resident Coordinator, Fabrizio Hochschild, said so at a forum on the peace talks held in the capital Bogota, according to RCN Radio.
According to Hochschild, “in these first 12 months public confidence in peace could be lost and new forms of violence can emerge” if bureaucracy or corruption impede an efficient implementation of agreements made between the FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos.
“Because of this, it is important to proceed with the implementation efficiently, without bureaucratic delays [and] without reopening major debates over what has been agreed” between the warring parties.
Hochschild’s comments followed remarks by former President Alvaro Uribe, a staunch critic of the talks, who asked the United States to demand changes in made agreements, also claiming that by not doing that Colombia risks a wave of post-conflict violence.
The United Nations’ representative called on all politicians to create a political alliance that will allow a swift implementation of agreements.
Uribe, whose father was allegedly killed by the FARC, has been the only politician to refuse involvement in the peace talks, partly because of a political feud with Santos.
Hochschild, taking into account that Colombia’s next president might be less committed to agreements made with the country’s longest-living guerrilla organization than Santos, urged future heads of state not to meddle with made agreements.
“Peace building is a long-term process. This always will go beyond the mandate of one single administration, the administration the signs peace,” said the UN chief, warning that the “interest of a new government to implement the agreements signed by its predecessor may decrease as new priorities emerge on the agenda.”
In order to guarantee continuity, Hochschild proposed the creation of a road map that would transcend the administration of Juan Manuel Santos, whose second and final term ends in August 2018.
Santos and the FARC have been negotiating peace since November 2012 and are widely expected to come to a final agreement in the first semester of this year.
This deal would end the longest-running armed conflict in the hemisphere and kick off a post-conflict peace building process that could take years and includes the FARC’s reintegration and participation in politics.
A deal would also mean a mass deployment of state officials who will have to assume control over areas that for decades have been under guerrilla control.