Continued from Part 3:
Jose Ramos Horta, East Timor. Timor Este means “East East”. We are a small country at the east end of the world. The conflict in East Timor was very different from the war in Colombia. In 1975, after the end of the Vietnam War, Indonesia invaded East Timor; but, like the Japanese who invaded us during World War II, were never able to conquer us. During this 24-year war with Indonesia, our fighters never killed a single civilian; we only killed Indonesian soldiers. Our peace agreement, which gave us independence from Indonesia, was approved by a 1999 referendum.
The challenge of treaty implementation was much different than what Colombia now faces. We only had to improve diplomatic relations with Indonesia. Colombians have to reconcile with each other. What made our task easier was our determination during the war not to demonize the people of Indonesia. Our struggle was a political one with their government, not an ethnic or religious war with them, even though we are primarily Catholic, and they are mostly Muslim. As a result, today we have very good diplomatic relations with Indonesia.
He urged that the Colombian peace accords be implemented in an orderly and consistent manner, with help from the Armed Forces and civil society at all levels. This was the way to resolve big and small problems.
Lord David Trimble, Northern Ireland. I think it’s very hard to compare one peace process with another and extract lessons from one to inform another. Each conflict is sui generis; and so is each peace process. I have no advice, therefore, to offer the Colombians.
The war that ended with the 1998 “Good Friday” peace agreement began in 1969, when the British army came to help local police keep the “peace”. This led to Bloody Sunday in 1973, which was followed from 1975 to 1992 by many failed negotiations. They failed because neither the Republicans nor the Unionists were ready to recognize that victory could not be achieved by force. Despite these failures, during this period, the security forces succeeded in frustrating the warring parties, and a number of grievances were addressed, including exclusion from the political process and the unequal distribution of public goods. In December 1993, the parties finally agreed to a cease-fire and expanded political participation. The political institutions put in place by the 1998 Good Friday agreement have faced challenges, and have required and will continue to require negotiating new agreements. But despite these problems, what alternative is there to dialogue?
Jean Arnault, France. Given the dramatic increase of civil conflicts in the world since 2010, Colombia’s peace agreement stands out as an exception and a model for the world. He drew four lessons from these negotiations. First, the importance of trust, which in this case was fostered by the secret negotiations preceding the public ones and by the international guarantors and sponsors. Second, the participation of military leaders. Third, the emphasis on victims, not just as beneficiaries of the peace process, but from the outset as active participants in it. Fourth, in developing a system of transitional justice, the tension between justice and peace can never be completely resolved. In this case, as good a resolution as possible was reached through the negotiations.
Ultimately, the test of any peace agreement is in its implementation. He saw three major challenges. First, the capacity of the Government to extend the rule of law into the territories, especially those formerly controlled by the FARC. Second, rural economic development. Third, illegal economies that have undermined and frustrated attempts to achieve peace in other civil conflicts, especially in Africa.