February 8, 2014
Videos are now available (see below) for the Colombia peace process conference held on January 23rd at The Elliott School for International Affairs at George Washington University sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America. Speakers from across Colombia’s political spectrum were largely optimistic that the peace process will produce an agreement. If and when this happens, it will be important that U.S. policymakers be prepared to shift course to support a transition away from war. The different speakers explored the issues at the peace talks most likely to impact U.S. policymakers (primarily the drug issue and extraditions), the role of the international community during and after the peace process, and the importance of an independent civil society to ensure that any agreements reached can be successfully implemented.
Panel 1: The State of the Colombia-FARC Peace Talks
The first panel addressed the status of the peace talks. Moderated by Adam Isacson, Senior Associate at WOLA, panelists included Senator Juan Fernando Cristo, President, Senate of Colombia; Ariel Ávila, Fundación Paz y Reconciliación (via Skype from Bogotá); and yours truly. (Read a summary of my remarks here.) The panel looked at the causes for optimism and the challenges ahead, particularly as the electoral season takes off in Colombia.
Panel 2: Afro-Colombian, Indigenous, and Civil Society Perspectives on Peace
The second panel analyzed perspectives from women, Afro-Colombian, and indigenous groups, who form the majority of the victims of Colombia’s internal armed conflict. Moderated by Gimena Sanchez, Senior Associate at WOLA, the panel included Marino Córdoba, National Association of DIsplaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES); Danilo Rueda, Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (CIJP); and Yamile Salinas, from the Institute for Peace and Development Studies (INDEPAZ)
Panel 3:The U.S. Role in Consolidating Peace
The third and last panel outlined some of the challenges that can be anticipated if a peace accord is signed. Moderated by Joy Olson, Executive Director, WOLA, the panel included Rep. Iván Cepeda, Congress of the Republic of Colombia; Fr. Francisco de Roux, Jesuit provincial in Colombia; and Rodrigo Uprimny, from The Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia). This panel focused in on the ways that the United States, by far the largest donor nation to Colombia, might help meet these challenges.