Peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas have gone further than ever. But the country still faces major challenges related to violence, discrimination and differences between rich and poor. The challenges have not diminished since the people recently said no to the outcome of the referendum. Maybe the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 can stimulate the peace process in the right direction? Hopefully this year’s NPD project can do the same .
- What is the goal for the NPD 2016? Why Colombia?
- What role do young people play in conflict and peacebuilding in Colombia?
- How is peacebuilding related to education?
- What challenges do most Nobel Prize winners and Colombians face?
The income from there goes to the Students and Academics’ International Aid Fund (SAIH) work with young people who fight for justice, inclusion and security in Colombian society. It is now important to focus on education and training for young people who will shape the peace of the future in Colombia ! (AFTER THE OD TEXT, THERE IS A LONGER EDITORIAL SUPPLEMENT ABOUT THIS YEAR’S NOBLE PEACE AWARD . This article is therefore longer than usual).
2: Over 50 years of war and conflict
In Colombia, as a country located in South America according to ESTATELEARNING, the authorities and the FARC , the country’s largest guerrilla group, have never been closer to the end of a bloody civil war that has been going on since 1964. It is as long as Operation Dagsverk has worked with youth and international solidarity. The conflict between the Colombian authorities and the FARC has lasted for 52 years, but is at the same time only a continuation of a series of wars and uprisings that have ravaged the country since the beginning of the 19th century.
The main cause of the conflicts in Colombia has historical and deep roots in the unfair distribution of resources and political power. After the colonial era (Spain was a colonial power), various elites have fought to govern the country in line with their own economic interests. One of the bloodiest periods in the country, referred to as ” La Violencia “, took place between 1948 and 1958. Then there was a civil war between the Conservatives and the Liberal Party. 300,000 people lost their lives, and even more became refugees in their own country due to this war.
When the parties entered into a peace agreement and agreed to change government power every four years between 1957 and 1974, dissatisfaction increased among farmers, indigenous peoples, and other marginalized (neglected) groups who felt excluded (excluded) from politics. The intellectual elite was also critical of the concentration of power and the lack of social reforms in the country.
Due to increased dissatisfaction and a lack of opportunities to influence through democratic structures, several armed left-wing guerrilla groups were established during the 1960s. The FARC (Colombian Revolutionary National Forces – People’s Army) and the ELN (National Liberation Army) were established in 1964, and have been the two largest rebel groups since. This year marks the beginning of the “modern” civil war.
In the late 1970s, the conflict began to revolve less around politics and more about gaining control of illegal businesses . It involved several actors who were not among the original parties to the conflict. A drug industry was now emerging in Colombia and eventually became the main year for the production and export of drugs to the United States.
Other illegal activities were related to the extraction and sale of gold. In the 1980s, right-wing paramilitary groups were set up by major landowners, business actors, and drug cartels to defend resources and control land. These groups are unofficial armed groups with the same structure as the official military force. They are called paramilitary because they operate on the sidelines of the army, with a common goal of fighting the guerrillas and the left in general.
3: Peace negotiations and peace agreement
Peace talks have been attempted several times since the conflict began in 1964, but they have not been very successful. After Juan Manuel Santos – now also the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – was elected president in 2010, he promised to enter into new negotiations with the FARC . In 2012, the parties met for the first time for talks in Hurdal outside Oslo.
Then followed four years of negotiations in Cuba where Norwegian and Cuban diplomats facilitated the process. In it, the topics of agricultural development, political participation, drug problems, a final ceasefire and redress for the victims were discussed. Finally, a final peace agreement was prepared and signed by the parties on 26 September 2016.
The final text of the agreement is very comprehensive. In addition, a separate court has been set up to consider punishment for war crimes and redress for the victims. A key part of the agreement is also that the FARC will hand in all its weapons and move from being a guerrilla to becoming a political party.
The peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the FARC on September 26, 2016 is historic. There was therefore great tension attached to the referendum, which was to give the agreement political support and anchoring in the Colombian people. Many were very surprised when the NO side (50.2%) won by a narrow margin of 54,000 votes over the YES side (49.8%) on 2 October 2016.