By Cindy A. Morales Castillo, Colombia+20, EL ESPECTADOR

June 27, 2023

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

That’s what it says in the most recent Kroc Institute report, which indicates that the accomplishment of the Agreement between the government and the now-defunct FARC guerrillas will not be possible “unless they immediately make some far-reaching decisions about the process”. This report analyzes for the first time how it has gone in other countries when, after signing, they are trying to negotiate with other armed groups.

As it does every year since the signing of the Peace Agreement, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University this Tuesday published a report on the progress, setbacks, and challenges in implementing the Havana Agreement since 2016.

The document, which analyzes the period between December 2021 and November 2022, is the first one to cover the Gustavo Petro administration, and urges it to accelerate the implementation of the Agreement, which will be seven years old this coming November.

According to the Kroc Institute, this new stage will be fundamental, because it will mark the end of half of the fifteen years for the execution of what was agreed upon, and “unless they immediately make some far-reaching decisions about the process, the implementation will not be able to be completed in the time established”.

Although the report recognizes a tendency to increase the implementation since the Peace Agreement was signed, it also indicates that beginning in 2019 (Iván Duque administration) the rhythm began “a considerable slowdown”. While between 2016 and 2018, the provisions in progress increased from 83 to 410, between 2019 and 2021, the percentage variation has been between four and six points, “diminishing notably in the final year with a variation of one percentage point.”

The document states that the current national context for implementation is affected by the persistence in presence and activity by illegal armed groups, by the transformations of the General Royalty System (OCAD-Paz) after the complaint of misappropriation of funds intended for the implementation of the Final Agreement, by Petro’s policies of “total peace” and their articulation with the Peace Agreement, and by the regional elections that will take place in October.

How is the implementation of the six points in the Peace Agreement going?

The Kroc Institute also analyzes the level of implementation of the Peace Agreement point by point, and divides those points into four categories: not begun, minimal, intermediate, and complete.

Generally, 31% of the provisions are complete, 20% are in a state of minimal action, and 13% have not yet begun their implementation.

Specifically, the first point, on integrated rural reform, and the second point on political participation are at the lowest level of execution. They registered an increase of three and two percentage points respectively, in proportion to provisions at an intermediate stage and registered no change in the number of provisions completed.

With regard to rural reform, they identified a lag in the adjudication and assignment of land parcels, with “only 1% of the total goal of three million hectares of land titled as of October 2022.”

Regarding the concept of the Campesino Reserve Zones (ZRC in Spanish), the report establishes that there has not been the necessary impetus, but that that has acquired new relevance withing the Ministry of Agriculture. Last December, and after 11 years of delay, the National Land Agency approved the creation of the zones of Sumapaz, Losada-Guayabero, and Güejar-Cafre, in Cundinamarca and Meta Departments. In addition, the document says that improvement is required in putting into effect the funds for the Multipurpose Cadaster and strengthening the management by the Cadaster administrators.

With respect to political participation, it highlights the election last March for the 16 Transitory Special Districts for Peace, also known as the seats for the victims, in the Chamber of Representatives, and the adoption of reconciliation, co-existence, and no stigmatization as public policies. However, “definition of the path to success in the creation and implementation of an institutional closed circuit TV channel as provided in the Final Agreement is still lacking,” states the report.

The points with the highest levels of execution are point four (re-incorporation of former combatants) and point six (mechanisms for implementation, verification, and confirmation) although there are some commitments lacking for carrying that out.

On point three, the report states that among the goals for re-incorporation is to establish ways for signers of the Peace Agreement to acquire land, but above all, to guarantee the safety and protection of their lives. According to Indepaz, from the signing of the Agreement until June of 2023, 373 former combatants have been murdered, 17 this year.

In addition, the Kroc Institute states that there needs to be progress in the presentation of the public policies and the plan to dismantle the criminal organizations. On that point, the report points out that the Petro administration’s policy of “total peace” could have a high component of progress, given that negotiations are going forward with this kind of armed group.

The fourth point (solution for the planting of crops for illegal use) experienced very small changes in effective implementation. The report explains that we are running the risk of failure to take a number of actions that would promote the Integrated National Program for Substitution of Crops for Illegal Use (PNIS in Spanish), such as differential criminal treatment for small planters and the more long-range projects in the process of substitution. According to the document, they are waiting for a change on that after President Petro’s announcement of a change in drug policy and the restructuring of the PNIS. Other goals would be progress in implementation in regulations for the Integrated National Intervention Program on Consumption of Illegal Drugs.

The fifth point experienced the greatest changes in comparison with the previous period (2021). According to the Kroc Institute document, that is mainly because the Truth Commission’s term came to an end and it turned over its Final Report, just one year ago this Wednesday.

Another reason, according to the Institute, is the issuance of the first resolutions containing the conclusions of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), such as the one on extrajudicial executions (also known as false positives) in Catatumbo and Cesar, and the one on macrocase 01, which takes on the investigation of the prior Secretariat of the now-defunct FARC guerrillas for their more than 20,000 kidnappings. It’s expected that this year the Peace Tribunal will impose its first special inherent sanctions.

Nevertheless, the program for collective reparations continues to present difficulties, and states that it expects that the JEP will formally open the case on sexual and reproductive violence. In the case of the Unit for the Search of Persons Believed to be Disappeared (UBPD in Spanish), which recently changed its leadership, the report indicates that they expect greater participation by victims in the construction and implementation of regional search plans.

The focus on ethnicity and gender

The Kroc Institute also monitors the transversal focuses of the Peace Agreement, and in this report, it indicated that the commitments made regarding ethnicity and gender made no progress, and there were no variations in the provisions.

In spite of that, it emphasizes that, on the issue of ethnicity, the assignment to the Vice President’s Office, held by Francia Márquez, of functions of institutional articulation and a section for guaranteeing the implementation of the chapter on ethnicity, is an achievement that had been promoted by the Special High-Level Entity for Ethnic Peoples (IANPE in Spanish). On that point, they also achieved the declaration by the United States and México as the top-level international accompaniment for this chapter. Added to that are the opening of macrocase 09 by the JEP, to explore the victimization of the indigenous and ethnic peoples during the armed conflict, and the presentation of an ethnic volume in the Truth Commission’s Final Report.

Another relevant event was the opening of 177 new voting sites in some of the indigenous reservations and community councils in departments like Cauca (38), Caquetá (30), Chocó (13), and Nariño (6). However, the report states that there are serious delays of the Multipurpose Cadaster in the ethnic territories, and that the Agency for Re-incorporation and Normalization (ARN in Spanish) didn’t work together with the Special Program for Harmonization or with the ethnic route in the PNIS. Besides that, the license for the operation of one of the 16 ethnic radio stations approved in 2021 has not yet been issued.

In the case of the focus on gender, initiatives for territorial development plans for rural women were prioritized, and they took on that issue in the Final Report with a volume on the damage suffered by women and LGBTIQ+. Nevertheless, they have not been able to raise the level of property titling, and the gaps between women and men in that area are persisting. Neither are there gender protocols in the program for substitution of crops used for illegal purposes, and there is not yet a characterization of LGBTIQ+ people in the UPBD search process.

How has it worked for other countries after their peace negotiations?

For the first time, the report also makes a comparison of the implementation process of Colombia’s Peace Agreement with 34 other agreements negotiated in 31 countries since 1989—which the Kroc Institute had studied–, but concentrated the study on the possibility of negotiation with other armed groups after the signing of a peace agreement. According to the report, this would allow the government and society to “identify things learned and recommendations within the political framework of ‘total peace’.”

Using this analysis, the Kroc Institute considers that with an effective implementation of the Final Agreement, other armed actors could be attracted to a successful negotiation, if four things are accomplished: guaranteeing participation of the signers of the Final Agreement in all the instances of implementation and in achieving the functioning of the Committee for the Monitoring, Advancement, and Verification of the Implementation. Also, making sure there is a solid process for re-incorporation, integrated access to land, and legal security for former combatants in their process of re-incorporation.

The analysis also studies the return to armed conflict of all the groups that signed or factions of those groups. That point is particularly important for Colombia, given the presence of two dissident groups of the now-defunct FARC, one that had signed the Agreement and then abandoned it (Second Marquetalía) and other militants that never signed it (Central Command Staff). The government is proceeding with negotiations with both, but those have not yet been successful.

The Institute states that, out of all of the countries studied, the armed groups, signers or non-signers of the Peace Agreements, there was continued active conflict during the first ten years after the signing of the Agreements in 14 of the 34 cases (41%). In addition, in 10 of the 34 cases studied (29%), the groups returned to conflict, whether the whole group or just a faction. Seven of those ten cases took place within the first two years after the signing of the Peace Agreement.

“According to information registered up until 2016, of the 34 ACP that were analyzed, only six (18%) were continuing in active armed conflict, five of them with groups that had not signed. That means 82% of the 34 agreements were able to achieve ‘total peace’,“ states the document.

Final recommendation for acceleration of the implementation of the Peace Agreement

At the end of the report, the Kroc Institute makes a series of suggestions and observations to different agencies to strengthen the process of implementation of the Peace Agreement. Here are some of them:

To the Commission for the Monitoring, Advancement and Verification of the Implementation (CSIVI), it recommends actions for the annual review of the Marco Plan for Implementation of the Final Agreement for the purpose of recommending adjustments to strengthen the Plan.

To the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace (OACP in Spanish), and the Unit for Implementation of the Final Agreement, it suggests defining a plan of action that allows the activation and exercise of management of the points and programs in the Final Agreement, so as to contribute to the objectives of the policy of “total peace”.

With a view toward the regional elections, it recommends that the candidates for governors of departments, mayors of municipalities, members of departmental assemblies and municipal councils be familiar with the Final Agreement and its commitments to their functions, and in the governance programs they are proposing, they should include the actions for implementation that will later be part of their plans for the development of their territories.

The Institute also asks that the administration and the Congress of Colombia push forward a legislative agenda for the implementation of the commitments made in the Final Agreement that require and depend on the adoption of regulations.

It recommends that the international community continue to support the Final Agreement and the search for peace in Colombia, both politically and financially.

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