Ahí va Colombia…Courtesy Lucho Molina/flickr
This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 27 June 2016.
While a final peace accord is likely still a few weeks away, Colombia’s government and FARC guerrillas reached a momentous agreement on June 23. The consensus on the last of five substantive items in negotiations taking place in Havana, Cuba, since 2012 delineates conditions for a permanent ceasefire and the demobilization of the guerrilla movement, which had been by far the thorniest issue on the agenda. Though the parties have decided that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” the accompanying Havana ceremony had the feel of the end of a 50-year war that has killed over 200,000 people and displaced six million.
Attending the ceremony was Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos; FARC Commander Timoleón Jiménez; Cuban President Raúl Castro and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende (representing the two guarantor countries); United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior UN officials; Presidents Nicholas Maduro of Venezuela and Michelle Bachelet of Chile; and many other world leaders and envoys. The impressive lineup sent a clear political message: no one should harbor doubts about the possibility of a peace agreement being signed, and the international community will put its weight behind it to ensure its success.
Philippine Marines Corporal. Photo: Lcpl Cory Yenter/Wikimedia Commons.
More than 10,000 people fled their homes this week in Mindanao, southern Philippines, as government forces launched a major offensive against Muslim splinter groups opposed to a final peace deal to end decades of insurgency in the island. The country’s capacity to respond to emergencies has been stretched by a series of deadly disasters.
President Benigno Aquino said the offensive was a calculated response against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who had been harassing civilians and troops in the towns of Datu Piang and Pikit, in Maguindanao Province.
Gun battles and heavy exchanges of mortar fire have left at least 37 rebels and one soldier dead since 27 January, and the military said at least three civilians were hurt by an improvised bomb attack near a market, in which seven troops were also injured.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the capital, Manila, said it had requested assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide tents for some 4,200 people in 10 evacuation centres. Another 4,565 people are staying with friends and relatives. » More
Prayers in Congo. Photo: Steve Evans/flickr.
Though the Second Congo War formally ended in 2003 the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Eastern regions have remained embroiled in violence. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has become the UN’s largest peacekeeping obligation with 19,134 uniformed personnel as of January 2013.
Despite the conclusion of formal hostilities almost a decade ago, violence has continued unabated with the most recent crisis occurring when the March 23rd Movement (M23) occupied the city of Goma. In response to the continuing violence and the new threat posed by M23 the UN mediated the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region on 24 February 2013. The Framework was signed by the leaders of the DRC and ten other African countries. While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has argued that the signing of the Framework represents a “historic opportunity”, the DRC has had a long history of failed peace agreements and there is little to differentiate the recently signed Framework from past attempts. This makes it hard to argue that the Framework represents a real step forward in the Congolese peace process. » More
Rebel in Northern Central African Republic. Photo: hdptcar/flickr
On January 11, the Central African Republic (CAR) government, led by President François Bozizé, and the rebel coalition Séléka signed a new peace deal. The agreement comes after a month of political and military instability that saw rebels advance on the capital Bangui in an attempt to overthrow Bozizé during a military advance. It is expected that the peace deal will result in the naming of new a prime minister and the formation of a government of national unity. According to Centrafrique Presse Info, President Bozizé is expected to respect the decision to appoint Nicolas Tiangaye, [fr] a lawyer and former president of the Central African Human Rights League, as the country’s new prime minister. » More
Colombian Paratroops. Photo by Ronald Dueñas/Flickr.
In addition to their love for telenovelas, as well as their cuisine and religion borne out of a shared Spanish heritage, Colombia and the Philippines now have one more thing in common. This [month], both countries took another step toward peace with their respective armed groups, which could lead to the end of internal conflicts that are among the oldest in the world. On October 15, the Philippines entered into a peace accord with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Two days later, Colombia’s government began peace talks in Oslo with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Each of these presents a unique opportunity for civil society to sustain peace by fostering trust and accountability over issues such as land rights, delivery of social services, political participation at the local and national level, and tolerance for other people’s beliefs. » More