The United Nations (UN) announced Thursday it stands in support of “Reconciliation Colombia” (Reconciliacion Colombia), a cooperative initiative to encourage dialogue, solidarity, and the Andean nation’s broader peace process, national media reported.
The UN said it will confer recognition to any similar group that “demonstrates a commitment to reconciliation,” and expressed its support to Reconciliation Colombia, which — according to its website — aims to “promote regional dialogue, incentivize the transmission of knowledge, and provide visibility to processes and experiences of reconciliation already being enacted in regions of the country that have suffered as a consequence of the armed conflict and other violent actions.”
Comprised of various public and private partnerships and headed by Semana magazine, Reconciliation held a national meeting Thursday in Bogota that was attended by authorities from local governments, victims of Colombia’s longstanding armed conflict, and institutions immersed in the reconciliation process.
The purpose of the meeting was to bring the various parties together to present their findings and share ideas on the peace and reconciliation process, according to a statement released by the organization.
“We are at a crucial and paradoxical time in our history,” said Semana Director Alejandro Santos. “While the government and the FARC are trying to concretize a peace agreement [through formal negotiations initiated in November 2012], the country lives under extreme political polarization. While in different regions many communities are working toward reconciliation, intolerance, manicheism, and visceral hate between political leaders occupy the headlines of the mass media. That is where projects such as Reconciliation Colombia draw their importance.”
“We are a country trying to find its way — to recover its memory and its dignity through justice,” he went on to say.
One of the decisions that came out of the meeting was the creation of a special fund, supported by BSD Consulting, to finance reconciliation processes in the country.
|“We are a country trying to find its way — to recover its memory and its dignity through justice.”|
The fund will serve to support community initiatives such as clearing land mines and “processes of historical memory.”
For at least 50 years, Colombia has been marred in an internecine conflict between leftist rebel groups, government security forces, and state-aligned right-wing paramilitary organizations. Over the course of the last five decades, the country has seen more than 1,000, 27,000 kidnappings, and five million forced displacements.
The meeting reinforced Reconciliation Colombia’s conviction that the path towards peace and forgiveness could only be sought through dialogue between the perpetrators and the victims. The meeting reported the findings of a nine-month investigation that chronicled some 540 reconciliation meetings held in 90 municipalities across the country and determined that there are at least 508 reconciliation projects underway throughout Colombia.
“With this work, we realize that reconciliation is possible, but it can only be achieved through dialogue,” said Santos.