The humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations in Colombia has said that he welcomes possible peace negotiations between the government and rebel group ELN, local media reported Wednesday.
In August, President Juan Manuel Santos said that he was ready to begin negotiations with the rebel group, after the release of Canadian miner Jernoc Wobert, who had been held captive since January 18. This rhetoric was then compounded by Vice President Angelino Garzon who, in September stated that peace talks with the rebels would begin “in the coming days.”
“When you start this process we will be very welcome and there will be much joy on the part of the United Nations,” said Fabrizio Hochschild of the UN.
The international organization, together with the National University are responsible for organizing citizen participation forums on the issues prevalent to the peace agenda between the government and Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC. Negotiations between the two have been ongoing since November.
While the two delegations are still discussing the second of five agenda points, Hochschild on Monday confirmed that the UN has already began preparations for a public forum on the third item on the agenda, illicit drugs and trafficking.
The forum will have two chapters. The first is to be held in Bogota from September 24 – 26, while the second will be held in San Jose del Guaviare, capital of the Guaviare department from October 1 -3. It will be split into three sub themes, illicit crop substitution programs, programs for public health and prevention and the phenomenon of production and marketing of narcotics.
“The idea is to achieve a diverse participation, broad-based, pluralistic, and above all respectful of all sectors of society on this issue,” explained Hochschild.
Proposals that are collected from the forum will be organised and sent to the peace delegations in Havana.