COLOMBIA: Breaking News from the Peace Table in Havana

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
South America
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Peace Processes

Breaking News from the Peace Table in Havana

November 6, 2013

This morning, a joint communiqué (#27) by the Colombian government and the FARC-EP announced that the parties have reached agreement on the second agenda item under discussion at the peace table in Havana–political participation. (See my latest post.) Like the agreement on land reform reached last May, this accord is historic. Taken together, these two accords address the two primary issues at the roots of the internal armed conflict–land and exclusion. Four items remain to be negotiated–victims rights and reparations, illicit crop cultivation and drugtrafficking, the terms of the end of the conflict (including DDR–disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration), and the mechanisms of ratification and implementation. These remaining issues deal more with the symptoms and consequences of the conflict and the particulars of how the peace deal will unfold rather than the root causes. The next item that will be addressed when the parties return to the table on November 18th will be the issue of illicit crops and narcotrafficking.

Those of us following the peace process have been expecting this announcement by week's end, so it wasn't exactly a surprise, but it was still exciting to hear that the agreement had come to fruition. I was just finishing a meeting here in Bogota and walked past a television set where I caught a glimpse of the Norwegian guarantor at the peace table in Havana, Dag Nylander, in a press conference live from Havana. He was saying something about the participation of women, an issue that I have tried to follow closely–with some difficulty because of the lack of information. I raced back to my hotel to learn more. A cursory review of the press makes no mention of women's participation, but the agreement itself (see El Tiempo) has decent language on this topic, noting that everything that was agreed to with regard to political participation, including its implementation, would be carried out keeping in mind a gender focus and guaranteeing the participation of women.

I'm off now for a meeting in the Colombian Congress with members of the Peace Commission there. I will try to do an overview of some of the main points of the agreement when I get back.