Entities of the United Nations and European Union are among international organisations to have signed a statement of support for continued dialogue between the Colombian government and armed groups following the recent suspension of a ceasefire with one major group due to ongoing violent activity.
Last week, the government of President Gustavo Petro suspended talks with a ‘dissident’ group, the Estado Mayor Central, after it reportedly killed a group indigenous youths. While the media reported four people killed, the group issued a statement acknowledging responsibility for three deaths. The incident generated condemnation in the press and among political figures.
The ceasefire suspension has raised concerns over the government’s ‘Total Peace’ strategy which promotes dialogue with armed groups aimed at ending violent confrontation. In March, the government ended a ceasefire with the paramilitary successor AGC group after it carried out attacks.
International organisations have now stressed the importance of negotiations as the most effective means of tackling violence in Colombia. Signatories to the support statement include the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, the Mission of Support for the Peace Process of the Organization of American States (MAPP-OEA), the European Union delegation to Colombia, the Commission of Conciliation of the Episcopal Conference in Colombia and the embassies of Ireland and Norway.
‘It is urgent that the provisions of International Humanitarian Law be applied and that human rights be respected. It is also an imperative to keep the protection of communities, the voice of the victims and the search for non-repetition at the centre of this peace process, especially for ethnic peoples,’ said the statement. The organisations expressed their commitment to providing support to the continuation of dialogues.
International support has been a critical component of the peace process involving the FARC guerrilla movement following the 2016 peace agreement. It is hoped that similar international involvement can help advance new settlements with armed groups that remain active in Colombia.