On 24 November 2016, after more than 50 years, a peace accord was achieved between the Colombian Government and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) rebels. Now the priority is to provide compensation for the victims, regulate land restitution and create economic prospects for the rural population and the urban poor. Other challenges include tackling criminal violence, integrating former combatants into society and restructuring the security sector. Germany is actively engaged in promoting long‑term peace in Colombia.
The demobilisation phase is under way
1 December 2016 marked the start of the six‑month demobilisation phase. The aim is that the FARC rebels will first gather in designated disarmament zones and will then hand over their weapons under the observation of the United Nations. It is estimated that in the course of the disarmament process, around 14,000 rifles and pistols as well as around 6000 other weapons such as mortars and grenades will be seized and destroyed.
The UN mission will take responsibility for these tasks. Its observers are responsible for the registration, identification, storage and constant monitoring of the weapons and are developing an appropriate strategy for destroying explosive ammunition and arms. Under the peace accord, the demobilisation process should be concluded after 180 days, by around the end of May.
Support from Germany
In January, then‑Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Colombia. While he was there, he pledged Germany’s financial support for the peace process, visited one of the disarmament zones in the conflict region in person and met with both parties to the accord. The promised support has now been implemented. Germany is providing the United Nations with a total of 500,000 euros for the disarmament process in Colombia. As a neutral actor in the three‑party mechanism, the UN mission has an important role to play in building confidence between the rebels and the Government and ensuring that both sides comply with the agreement.
Disarmament up close
The project “Crónicas Desarmadas”, which the German Embassy in Bogotá is supporting, provides a special insight into the disarmament process. A specially created website features portraits of people from the disarmament zones and the surrounding areas. The stories told on the website convey a very real impression of the challenge that establishing long‑term peace after such a long conflict presents.