On November 17th, USIP held a Colombia Peace Forum discussion on “Demobilizations in Colombia.” The event took place at the United States Institute of Peace from 2:30 to 4:00 pm.

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Peace talks between the government of Colombia and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC-EP) have entered their 30th cycle in Havana and exploratory talks continue with a smaller insurgency group, the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN). Three provisional agreements have now been reached with the FARC on three of five substantive agenda items. The peace negotiators are now discussing the remaining two items on their agenda--victims and the end of the conflict, including the terms of demobilization, setting aside of arms, and reintegration (what internationals refer to as demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR).

This event, co-sponsored with the Colombia Committee for Human Rights and the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, featured three speakers who have gone through the demobilization process under previous peace agreements. The panelists discussed the evolution of Colombia’s DDR programs, the strengths and weaknesses of Colombian approaches to DDR, and anticipated opportunities and challenges for future demobilizations in Colombia as part of a peace process. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #ColombiaPeaceForum.

Speakers

Fernando Hernández: Former combatant who demobilized in the 1994 Peace Accord between the Colombian government and the Corriente de Renovación Socialista, a splinter group of the National Liberation Army (ELN), representative to the House of Representatives (1994-1996), chairman of the Committee on Human Rights of the Colombian House of Representatives, consultant for Amnesty International, professor and researcher at the School of Culture and Peace of the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (2003-2010) and currently executive director of Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris.

José Aristizábal: Social researcher, writer and expert in issues of globalization, armed conflicts, the  Colombian conflict, peace movements, indigenous movements, and new social movements. A participant and leader in social and political struggles in Colombia in the second half of the 20th century, Mr. Aristizábal was exiled in Spain from 2003 to April 2014. He was a founder of Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris, where he coordinates the Observatory of the Armed Conflict and Post-Conflict.

Myriam Criado:  Former spokeswoman of the Popular Liberation Army (EPL) of the Magdalena region, and former member of the Colombian communist party. Ms. Criado was a candidate for the House of Representatives in 1992 and for the regional assembly (1992-1994) but was not elected. She occupied various leadership positions with the non-profit organization, Fundación Progresar, established to facilitate the demobilization process of the EPL. She is currently a researcher for the National Center of Historical Memory, and was nominated as a spokeswoman to the National Peace Council for the association of demobilized women of the insurgency.

Virginia M. Bouvier, Moderator,  senior advisor for Latin America at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and editor of Colombia: Building Peace in a Time of War, soon to be released in Spanish by the Universidad del Rosario Press.

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