Between 5 and 10 April 2018, Justice for Colombia staged the inaugural delegation of the JFC Peace Monitor, a new project designed to provide international observation and support for the Colombian peace process.
The delegation was formed of British and Irish parliamentarians and international trade unionists who met with a broad range of political and civil society actors to discuss the current state of implementation of the peace agreement, as well as the broader human rights situation in the country.
The delegates were:
- The Rt Hon. Dame Rosie Winterton (Labour MP for Doncaster Central and deputy speaker in the House of Commons)
- Lord Dave Watts (Labour member of the House of Lords)
- Mickey Brady MP (Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh)
- Christine Blower (International Secretary for the National Education Union, the largest education union in Europe, and former General Secretary of the National Teachers’ Union
- Sharan Burrow (General Secretary of the International Trade Unions Confederation, with around 207 million members)
- Peter Nolan (Head of local government and international affairs at Fórsa, Ireland’s largest public sector trade union)
- Kate Osborne (member of the National Executive Committee for Unite the Union, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union)
- Gemma Swart (Head of global media at the International Trade Union Confederation)
The Peace Monitor delegates visited Bogota, a FARC reincorporation and training camp in Antioquia and a region of north Cauca highly affected by political violence. The people, institutions and organisations they met with included:
- Colombia’s vice-president
- the Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia
- the FARC
- the Colombian Government’s High Commissioner for Peace
- the Congressional Peace Commission
- the Ambassadors of the guarantor countries to the peace process and the British Ambassador
- the CUT and CTC Executive committees as well as regional trade unions, human rights defenders and civil society organisations
In these meetings, the delegates heard about the advances, challenges and obstacles facing the implementation of the Colombian peace process. They were also told about the escalation in attacks on social leaders since the agreement was signed in November 2016. Whilst they were in Colombia there was a significant incident relating to the peace process with arrest of the FARC peace negotiator Jesús Santrich just a few hours after meeting the delegation. As well as a key negotiator during the talks, Jesús Santrich was one of three FARC representatives on the oversight body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the peace deal.
The delegation presented its findings in a statement which can be read here.
The visit was the first in a series of international delegations organised by the JFC Peace Monitor which will visit Colombia in the coming months and years to monitor and support the implementation of the peace agreement.
You can follow the JFC Peace Monitor Twitter Page at @JFCPeaceMonitor and find out more on the blog at colombiapeacemonitor.org