Today marks one year since Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the top leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Rodrigo Londoño, signed a historic peace agreement.
This brought an end to a paralysing conflict in which 200,000 people were killed, 5 million people were displaced and around 36,000 people were kidnapped.
The signing ceremony was a moment of hope, accentuated by the fact that President Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at reaching the accord. A year later, little has been done to implement the accord, and any chance for peace in Colombia may be slipping away.
Violence and human rights abuses are still rampant in large parts of the country. This is no longer due to conflicts between the army and the FARC. However, the vacuum created by the demobilization of the FARC is being filled in by other armed groups, including paramilitaries, criminal gangs and guerrilla groups left out of the accord, such as the ELN. These various groups aim to take over where the FARC left off, earning money through drugs trade, illegal gold mining and extortion.
The government has made remarkably little progress in implementing the accord. This includes the protection of civilians, reintegrating former fighters, guaranteeing the safety of former fighters, and stimulating economic development in rural areas. Delays are also plaguing the establishment of a truth commission and a special court to try people for war crimes.
Time is of the essence
It is not too late to save the peace process in Colombia, but urgent action is needed. PAX, along with 7 other Dutch unions and NGOs, is calling on the Dutch government to insist on accelerated implementation of the peace accord, carrying out transitional justice, and protecting the safety and the rights of the population at large.