FARC to Discuss Colombia Peace Talks in Westminster

Press Release: London, 6th March 2015

FARC to Discuss Colombia Peace Talks in Westminster

High profile UK MPs will host FARC negotiators at an event in Parliament on Tuesday 10th March at 18.15 to debate the country’s historic peace talks. It is the first time the FARC will address MPs on the subject.

The Parliamentary Friends of Colombia, the All Party Group on Conflict, and the NGO Justice for Colombia are hosting the event at which both negotiators from the FARC insurgency and the Colombian Government have been invited to discuss the progress of the talks.

The event will be chaired by Seumas Milne of The Guardian, who met with negotiators last year, and other speakers include Jeffrey Donaldson MP from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Conor Murphy MP of Sinn Fein and Mark Durkan MP of the SDLP who have been engaged in experience sharing with the Colombian negotiators since 2012.

This will be the first time that the FARC has addressed parliament about the peace process. British and Irish politicians have been involved in supporting the Colombia peace process since 2012 and Tuesday’s event is a major milestone in the role of UK politicians supporting the Colombian peace process.

The head of the FARC negotiating team, Ivan Marquez will lead the discussion on behalf of the insurgency and will address the meeting via a live video link. The last time he visited the House of Commons was in the late 1980s when he was a Member of Congress for the left-wing Patriotic Union Party, before rejoining the FARC after 1000s of party activists were murdered.

The Colombian peace talks seek to bring to an end over 50 years of fighting between government and the FARC. The current talks have advanced further than any previous attempts, but many obstacles still need to be overcome. The Good Friday Agreement has been an object of study by both sides. This event will allow a fascinating insight into the negotiations and the role of Northern Irish politicians in helping to bring peace to Colombia.

The discussion will take place at 18.15 on Tuesday 10th March in the Thatcher Room at Portcullis House. The FARC negotiators will be speaking via videolink direct from Havana, Cuba, where the talks are taking place.
Jeffrey Donaldson MP (DUP): “It’s important that the international community support the efforts of both sides to put an end to one of the world’s longest running conflict. We wouldn’t have achieved peace in Northern Ireland without the international support received by all the actors.” The invitation letter signed by a group of cross party MPs stated that “it would be an honour to offer you this constructive space in Parliament”.

For more information please contact Mariela Kohon 07787 821 410, mariela@justiceforcolombia.org or Sarah Merrill 07899 921 205, sarah.merrill@parliament.uk, or you can follow the event on twitter by following @JFColombia.

10th March 2015, 18:15, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House – To confirm attendance send email to: mariela@justiceforcolombia.org

Notes to Editors:

– Justice for Colombia is a British NGO founded by the TUC in 2003 which supports human rights and peace in Colombia. It has facilitated exchanges between Northern Irish politicians and both sides of the peace talks including President Santos since the talks began. – The All Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues encourages dialogue on issues relating to conflict; especially on the practical means to prevent, transform and resolve violent conflict. – The Parliamentary Friends of Colombia Group is a group of over 80 MPs and Peers with an interest in the human rights situation in Colombia. – The FARC is Colombia’s largest guerrilla insurgency. It has been fighting the Colombian State for over 50 years. Peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian Government formally began in November 2012.