Yesterday evening, the Colombian government and the EMC (Estado Mayor Central de las FARC-EP) announced the launch of formal negotiations on 8 October. The EMC has its origins in the 2016 peace agreement, which was not signed by a faction of the FARC rebels. Together with other states, Switzerland will accompany the new peace process as a guarantor, thus stepping up its previous efforts in support of the peace process in Colombia. It will be present at the negotiations and provide political and technical support to the process. The international support architecture will be announced at the start of negotiations.
Several peace processes are currently taking place simultaneously in Colombia. The government's goal is to include all armed groups in a comprehensive peace. Switzerland previously supported the negotiation process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and, since 2016, has supported the implementation of the peace agreement concluded that year, for which it is also advocating on the UN Security Council. Since November 2022, Switzerland has also been a member of the support group for the peace process with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN). When requested to do so, it advises the parties on issues such as compliance with the ceasefire or the protection of civilians. The FDFA's Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD) is the lead unit.
Peace process following decades-long armed conflict
Colombia has been mired in armed conflict for decades, with guerrilla groups fighting both the Colombian armed forces and paramilitary groups. The death toll is estimated at over 200,000, and almost 80 per cent of those killed have been civilians. In 2016, a peace agreement was concluded between the Colombian government and the FARC. Since then, however, armed hostilities with other armed groups have escalated in some regions.
Colombia is a priority country for the PHRD, which is committed to promoting peace there. It supports reconciliation processes through the provision of technical expertise in areas such as civil society participation, ceasefires and dealing with the past. In addition to its efforts to ensure the implementation of the 2016 peace agreement and to support the reconciliation and negotiation processes, it also helps to mitigate the consequences of the conflict, for example through its support for humanitarian demining. Furthermore, at the request of the Colombian government and the FARC, Switzerland is storing the original final agreement of 2016 and a digital backup copy of the archives of the Colombian Truth Commission.
Through its commitment to peace and security, reflected in its support for the Colombian peace process, Switzerland is also fulfilling one of the thematic priorities of its Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23.
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