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Derry Proposals for Colombian Peace Presented

27 May 2013

The ‘Derry Proposals for Colombian Peace’ were formally presented to the DeputyHead of Mission of the Colombian Embassy in London at an international peace conference in Derry~Londonderry at the weekend.

The conference was hosted by the Rotary Club of Londonderry in partnership with INCORE, the University of Ulster’s international conflict research institute at Magee.

Juan Manuel Uribe accepted the ‘Derry Proposals for Colombian Peace’ from Ariel Sanchez Meertens, a native of Colombia and former Research Fellow at INCORE, making good a promise made by Mauricio Rodriguez, the Colombian Ambassador to the UK when he visited Magee last month.

In April, INCORE, through the support of the EU Marie Curie Programme and Rotary, hosted a series of discussions with delegates from Colombia and the United States and policy makers and researchers from Northern Ireland and the UK. At the time, the Ambassador said that any peace proposals produced as a result of the discussions would be studied closely by Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos.

INCORE Director, Professor Brandon Hamber explained that they examined how lessons learned from 15 years of post-agreement politics in Northern Ireland could contribute to the Colombian peace efforts.

“While every peace process requires tailor-made and innovative negotiation formats, as well as implementation strategies, there are different levels of comparability with Northern Ireland.

“The Northern Ireland experience had shown how an eventual political settlement must be progressively strengthened by additional agreements, policies and legislation.

“We are very proud at INCORE to be able to feed into other peace processes as this is central part of what INCORE has been doing for the last 20 years, transferring lessons across contexts and making a real contribution to peace,” said Professor Hamber.

The Derry Proposals for a Colombian Peace document identifies 18 key points structured around the five themes that form part of the Colombian negotiation agenda: land reform and rural development; drug production and traffickinginColombia, an end to hostilities, victims’ rights and political participation.

The FARC, Colombia's largest guerrilla group, are currently involved in negotiations with the government in Havana, the Cuban capital. The current round of talks, which got underway in Norway last October before moving to the Caribbean, is the fourth attempt to reach a negotiated settlement of what is the longest-running conflict in Latin America.

President Santos has stated publicly that he wants the peace talks to conclude this year. He is committed to the process and his re-election later this year depends on a successful outcome of the talks with the FARC in Cuba.

There was a significant breakthrough at the weekend with the Government and FARC negotiators reaching an agreement on land reform. The agreement calls for fair access to land and the creation of a land bank, as a way to reallocate land, including areas seized illegally during the fighting.

Ariel Sanchez, who was on a Marie Curie Research Fellowship for Sustainable Peace Building at INCORE, said the ‘Derry Proposals for Colombian Peace’ document was an attempt to energise the international community.

“We need the international community to engage with the peace process and to generate debate among the Colombian Diaspora.

“The 18 proposals contained in the document reflect the growing momentum and political will that exists for a negotiated settlement.

“After numerous failed attempts, Colombians have the chance of ending one of the longest running armed conflicts in the world and with it, of joining the Philippines and their recently signed accord, inspired by the Belfast Good Friday Agreement into becoming the new global paradigms of peace.”

He continued: “It is encouraging that some issues already seem to be moving forward such as agreements on land, and our proposals will feed into this ahead of the completion of the final agreement.”

The signatories to the Derry Proposals for a Colombian Peace: Marco Palacios (researcher Universidad de los Andes, former rector Universidad Nacional de Colombia); Claudia Lópes (Journalist, researcher Northwestern University); Maria Camila Moreno (Director International Center for Transitional Justice – Colombia); March Chernick (research Georgetown University/Universidad de los Andes);Mauricio Romero (researcher Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, former DDR coordinator of the National Repatriation and Reconciliation Commission – CNRR); and Adam Isaacson (Senior Associate, Washington Office for Latin America).

Professor Paul Arthur, Lord John Alderdice, Dr Quintin Oliver, Professor Monica McWilliams, Dr Clem McCartney, Dr John Topping,Professor Cath Collins and Professor Brandon Hamber gave input and fed into the drafting of the document.

Over 300 people including Rotarians from around the world and politicians,business leaders, policy makers,academicsand peace activists took part in the Rotary and INCORE peace conference at the weekend on the theme ‘FromPeacemakingtoPeacebuilding- Journeys towards Reconciliation’.

The three day event culminated in a series of Masterclasses on peacebuilding onMagee Campus of the University of Ulster, including some at the INCORE offices.