Colombia’s road to peace: The ‘no’ vote should be a stepping stone to a stronger peace process
Pax Christi International believes that the Colombian peace agreement is an important step forward on the road to peace. Recognizing that the majority of Colombians who participated in the referendum could not support the accord as negotiated, we urge all parties involved to continue the difficult process of achieving peace after so many decades of war, including addressing perceived weaknesses regarding the transitional justice process and listening to the voices of those who are critical.
Despite yesterday’s results, we call upon the Colombian Government, the FARC, the international community, and, most importantly, civil society–including the Catholic Church—to continue to pursue the peace process, recommitting their efforts to secure a future of co-existence built upon a just peace for all of Colombia.
It is our hope that the ‘no’ vote will lead to addressing more strongly the challenges toward peace. The peace process must:
1. Tackle the root causes of the conflict by bringing about socio-economic changes. Peace is only possible and sustainable when human rights, the rule of law and democracy are promoted and respected.
2. Ensure that the justice provisions of the agreement are in line with international law and that its standards on accountability and the rights of victims are upheld. Victims must feel that their dignity is respected and restored. Their voices must be central to the transitional justice process, allowing their testimony to receive public recognition, affirmation and acknowledgement.
3. Follow through on the FARC’s commitment to disarmament and the cessation of drug trafficking and facilitate their reintegration into society through new lives constructed around work, education and democratic political participation.
4. Set up initiatives that stimulate restoring trust, achieving reconciliation and pursuing nonviolent ways of dealing with conflicts in order to mitigate the long cycle of violence that has touched every level of society.
5. Entice the other guerrilla group, the ELN, to begin formal peace talks and also take action against the resurgence of paramilitaries, so that the fragile peace process can grow in strength and depth.