The Final Agreement to End the Armed Conflict and Build a Stable and Lasting Peace was signed by the Colombian State and the FARC-EP on November 24th, 2016. It was approved by the Colombian parliament on November 30th, 2016. The Agreement enforces the 22nd article of the Colombian Constitution, which guarantees a right to peace and establishes a binding obligation to implement it.
Between 2012 and 2016, thanks to the negotiations and bilateral cease-fires, 3695 lives were saved by the considerable reduction of murders in combat situation (according to the Resource Centre for Conflicts Analysis CERAC). Data from the Central Military Hospital shows that between January and November of 2017, 24 members of the Armed Forces were treated for war injuries, exactly 400 less than in 2011.
Paradoxically, as the number of those killed in combat reduced dramatically, targeted murders of social leaders increased exponentially. According to the annual report from NGO Somos Defensores, 106 Human Rights defenders were murdered in 2017, a 32% increase compared to 2016 (80 murders). The report also accounts for 650 aggressions, 370 threats, 50 terrorist attacks and 23 arbitrary detentions. Between June 17th and July 5th of 2018, three weeks after the second turn of the Presidential election, more than 30 murders of social leaders were recorded. As killings due to war have been declining, the murders of human rights defenders has substantially increased. A new wave of political violence such as this could jeopardize democracy. This context makes visible the fact that Colombia has a long way to go in order to reach a stable and everlasting peace.
According to the Victim’s Unit, an entity that is part of the Colombian State, 8,346,422 people were subjected to war crimes within the framework of the conflict, such as forced displacement, land dispossession, threats, forced disappearances and sexual crimes, among others.
The Peace Agreement includes a variety of measures to guarantee not only the cease-fire between the two sides of the conflict, but also the restoration of the victims’ rights and corresponding reparations.
The first chapter addresses Comprehensive Rural Reform and ensures that victims recover the rights to private property of the stolen land. The second chapter deals with Political Participation and thus opens a possibility for the victims’ democratic representation, by assigning them 16 new seats in the Colombian Parliament. The fourth chapter aims to solve the illicit drugs problem, which is closely related to the roots of the conflict. The fifth chapter is about victims. This part of the agreement endeavors to guarantee the rights to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition for the 8 million victims, by establishing a mechanism of transitional justice.
The normative implementation of the Agreement in Colombian law
The scope of the Peace Agreement, then, goes beyond the cease-fire. It is a key tool for achieving peace across the entirety of Colombian society; it is a mechanism to guarantee reparations and the rights of the victims.
The Agreement was incorporated into the Colombian legal system through Legislative Act 002 in 2017. It added a transitory amendment to the Colombian Constitution, stating:
« To implement the right to peace, the content of the Final Agreement to end the armed conflict and build a stable and lasting peace, signed on 24 November 2016, where it relates to the rules of international humanitarian law or fundamental rights defined in the Political Constitution and rights related to those rights, shall be an obligatory parameter for interpretation and a point of reference for the implementation and validity of the rules and laws implementing and developing the Final Agreement.
State institutions and authorities are obliged to comply with the provisions of the Final Agreement in good faith. Consequently, the actions of all state bodies and authorities, any regulatory developments of the Final Agreement and their interpretation and application must be wholly consistent with what has been agreed, preserving the content, the commitments, the spirit and the principles of the Final Agreement.»
The international commitments from the Colombian State
The Colombian government deposited the Peace Agreement with the Swiss Federal Council of Berne, within the framework of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, on the basis that the Agreement develops and ensures the compliance with International Humanitarian Law. The Agreement was thus admitted by the Swiss government, following the political principle of supporting the Colombian peace process.
In June 2015, during the EU-CELAC summit, the European Union formally announced the creation of a Fiduciary Fund for Peace funded by the European Commission with additional contributions provided by 19 countries. This fund aims to assist in the implementation of the Agreement’s provisions and to help the Colombian population in overcoming the negative consequences of 50 years of internal armed conflict.
Furthermore, the Agreement was deposited with the United Nations Security Council. Consequently, the Security Council voted at least five resolutions (2261/16; 2307/16; 2366/17; 2377/17; 2381/17), all reaffirming the Peace Agreement’s value and the UN’s commitment to be the guarantor of the Treaty’s execution through the implementation of two United Nations Verification Missions.
In addition to its legal and political commitments, the Colombian State has made a commitment to the International Community that it will respect the provisions of the Agreement.