The United Nations called on Colombia’s politicians and FARC rebels to establish a more peaceful public discourse without understating or being apologetic about crimes committed during the 51-year-long armed conflict.
“You cannot reach peace, a sustainable peace, if war persists in the rhetoric of the politicians, of opinion leaders,” the UN’s resident coordinator in Colombia, Fabrizio Hochschild, told press on Thursday.
The UN representative stressed that “changing the way of talking does not mean denying that a lot of crimes have been committed,” but does mean to “stop seeing the world as divided between good and evil, to stop dehumanizing and stigmatizing other Colombians.”
According to Hochschild, the excessively aggressive language is not just used by politicians, but also by the FARC.
“There is a lot of stigmatization of society on behalf of the FARC. They talk about a corrupt oligarchy, of an oligarchy that is indifferent to the poor, they talk about an oligarchy that is in the hands of imperialism. These are also stigmas,” said Hochschild.
In all, “both sides have to moderate their language,” the UN representative said.
The moderation of tone in the public discourse is “very important” for the beginning of a possible reconciliation process aimed at healing deep wounds in Colombian society that has been subjected to decades of extreme violence, according to the UN official.
This reconciliation process would follow a peace deal between the government and the FARC guerrillas that has been negotiated since November 2012.
So far, the government and rebels were able to relatively easily come to partial agreements on drug trafficking, political participation and rural development, but have hit a rough patch now the negotiators are talking about victims which includes the application of some form of transitional justice over the tens of thousands of war crimes committed by both parties.