Colombia and Largest Rebel Group FARC Reach Historic Breakthrough in Peace Talks

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On Saturday morning, the Colombian daily newspaper El Tiempo reported that the country’s largest rebel group that has waged a five decade civil war in their country have recognized the victims of the armed conflict for the first time ever.

The recognition came in the form of a joint statement from the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), saying that they have come to an agreement of principles for the ongoing peace negotiations taking place in Havana, which will now focus on the victims of the conflict. A list of ten basic principles was released, which will now be the foundation of the talks.

Here are the ten basic principles outlined in the agreement released Saturday. The principles were originally published in Spanish are translated to English below:

1. Appreciation of victims: Both groups agreed it is important to recognize the victims of the conflict, not only as victims, but as citizens with full rights.


2. Acknowledgment of responsibility: The acknowledgment of responsibility towards the victims of the conflict must be adhered to.

3. Recognize the rights of the victims: The rights of the victims of the conflict are not negotiable.


4. Victim participation: The debate on the satisfaction of the rights of victims of serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law during the conflict, requires the participation of victims themselves.

5. The discovery of the truth: Clarifying what happened during the conflict, including its multiple causes, origins and effects, is a key part of the fulfillment of the rights of victims, and society in general. Rebuilding trust depends on full clarification and recognition of the truth.


6. Reparation for victims: Victims are entitled to be compensated for damages suffered because of the conflict. Restoring the rights of victims and transforming their living conditions after the end of the conflict is a fundamental part of the construction of stable and lasting peace.

7. Guarantees protection and security: Protecting the life and personal integrity of the victims is the first step to satisfying their other rights.


8. Guarantee of non-repetition: The end of conflict and the implementation of reforms arising from the Final Agreement, constitute the main guarantee of non-repetition and how to ensure that new generations of victims do not arise. The measures adopted both in point 5 and the other agenda items should aim to ensure no repetition so that no Colombian again be put at risk of becoming a victim.

9. Principle of reconciliation: One of the objectives of the satisfaction of victims' rights is the reconciliation of all Colombian citizens to travel roads of civility and conviviality.


10. Focus on rights: All the agreements we reach points on the agenda and in particular point 5: "Victims" should contribute to the protection and guarantee of full enjoyment of the rights of all. Human rights are inherent to all human beings equally, which means they belong to every individual by virtue of being, and therefore their recognition is not a concession. These rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and must be considered globally in a fair and equitable manner. Consequently, the State has the duty to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and every citizen's duty not to violate the human rights of their fellow citizens.


Photo by Getty Images

“The victims are at the center of the peace process,” said Humberto de la Calle, head of the delegation of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. “We’re not here to negotiate about their rights, but to ensure that the government and the FARC will respond to their concerns in the best way possible."


President Santos weighed in on the development on Twitter, saying that the recognition of victims in the Civil War is great news.


This breakthrough in the peace process comes only a week before a presidential election that would see President Santos serving a second term. Santos is currently trailing behind candidate Óscar Iván Zuluaga, a former finance minister who is backed by popular former President Álvaro Uribe, who served before Santos.

Santos has bet his presidency and reputation on the peace talks, that have been taking place since 2012. So far, accords have been reached on three of the five items on the agenda: land reform, the FARC’s political role, and drug trafficking.


Formally ending the conflict, and “truth and reparations” for the victims are the only last two items on the agenda.

Zuluaga is not a fan of the peace process that he sees as being too forgiving of the FARC. And according to the Economist, he has been vocal about steps he would take if elected to prematurely end the talks.


Nevertheless, following the release of the principles listed above, a delegation of victims will be joining the peace talks in Havana in the near future, though no specific date has been set.

Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.