Saturday, October 3, 2015

Colombia Visit and Peace Process

In early September I was lucky enough to visit Colombia (17-24 September 2015). Currently, the Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) are in the midst of negotiations to end the 50 year conflict. Some 250,000 people (80% civilians) have been killed over the decades and 6.5 million people displaced. Talks began in November 2012 in Havana, Cuba. Several accords have been reached and the final agreement is set to be signed in 2016.
Bogota


I was invited to Colombia at the request of the City of Valledupar, one of the cities (some 1.5 hours north east of Bogota by plane) that was most affected by conflict. A series of conferences, presentations, and workshops were being organized under the leadership of Mayor Fredys Miguel Socarras Reales, focusing on preparing for the regional implementation of the peace. I addressed a range of community members (about 150-200) over a two-day process to discuss comparative peace lessons at a community level. I also met with the Mayor.

After the community engagements I spent some days in Bogota meeting some key players in the peace process and sharing lessons with them and different civil society members. The trip ended with a presentation to about 200-300 training lawyers at Libre University in Bogotá as part of conference on Reconciliation, Civil Law and Commissions. Again the focus was on comparative lessons from Northern Ireland.

View of the public meeting