The pursuit of ‘total peace’ for Colombia

The total peace concept: how could it work?

There is a widespread belief that the peace talks model created in the 2016 agreement with the Farc is insufficient to meet today’s challenges. One major deficiency concerns the time and effort required to negotiate. It took no less than four years to reach the Farc agreement, with negotiations spread out over two presidential terms. Given the number of armed groups still in existence, repeating the formula sequentially would be deeply problematic. If negotiations are approached in that way, it could take as much as eight years or even more to finalise settlements with the ELN and AGC (extending beyond Petro’s four-year term in office), and in the interim old organisations and trouble spots might re-arm and re-ignite. In many senses this would be a familiar and depressing Colombian story. Since the 1990s Colombian governments have reached separate peace deals with no less than six different armed groups. None of those deals has been able to achieve a sustainable end to armed conflict.

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