A national advocacy group for victims of Colombia’s longstanding armed conflict expressed its support Monday for the announced structure of ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebel group, the country’s largest, currently centering around the topic of armed conflict victims.
The 10-point negotiation agenda for the issue of armed conflict victims is an important step toward reconciliation, according to the Unit for Attention and Integral Reparation for Victims, a state agency tasked with guaranteeing truth, justice, political participation, reparations, and security for the country’s more than six-million armed conflict victims.
“Unity for Victims feels very hopeful about this agreement and the negotiating table with 10 points that form the basis for talks in which victims will be exalted, dignified, and recognized,” said Unity for Victims Director Paula Gaviria Betancur, according to the national El Espectador newspaper.
Since negotiations began in November 2012, delegates from the Colombian government and FARC have agreed upon three out of six points on the overall peace agenda: agrarian reform, political participation, and narcotics cultivation and trafficking. The parties recently began discussions around the topic of armed conflict victims, and a separate negotiation agenda was announced Saturday to cover the talks.
The preliminary agreement established procedural matters for negotiations on the victims topic, and promised that any resulting accord would adress the following points, according to a joint statement released by the FARC leadership on behalf of the peace talks:
- Acknowledgement of victims
- Acknowledgment of responsibility.
- Satisfaction of victims’ rights.
- Participation of victims.
- Clarification of the truth.
- Reparation for victims.
- Guarantees for protection and security.
- Guarantee of non-repetition.
- Principle of reconciliation.
- Rights perspective.
The Unit for Victims celebrated the points Monday, saying that the framework is a good start for addressing the numerous and complicated issues still facing millions of victims.
“The Unit for Attention and Integral Reparation for Victims celebrates that the agreed-upon principles privilege recognition for victims and their rights to truth, justice, reparation, and future security guarantees. This framework not only conforms to national and international law, but also, more importantly, to the demands of millions of Colombian victims,” read a statement released by the government agency Monday.
“[Saturday’s] announcement renews the commitment of the Unit for Attention and Reparation of Victims with the peace, since our work seeks recognition, restitution of the rights and rebuilding trust in the state. We are taking the first step to jointly build a better society,” the statement goes on to read.
The public advocacy group’s optimism was tempered, however, by the uncertainty that continues to surround the future of the peace talks.
Gaviria expressed a widely held concern that the peace talks could be suspended or cancelled if hardline Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga wins in Sunday’s second round presidential election.
“I believe that these agreements would be in danger because the focus is not the same, the commitment and vision is not the same as the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, and him [Zuluaga] not recognizing the conflict changes the outlook,” said the public agency director.
Until recently, Zuluaga was on record as saying he would immediately suspend peace talks upon entering office. The candidate has since tempered his rhetoric, though he and party leader, former President, and Senator-elect Alvaro Uribe remain among the staunchest public critics of the Santos administration’s peace process.
- Unidad para las Víctimas dice que anuncios de La Habana llenan de ilusión (El Espectador)
- Unidad para la Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas (Press release)
- Joint Communique 37 (FARC EP)