Paper on Intervention of the United Nations in Colombia’s Peace Process
Colombia has undergone one of the most extensive internal armed conflicts globally. This prolonged conflict has been vigorous for more than five decades and its consequences continue to be intense. It is one of the main internal conflicts in the world. In the previous four years, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) guerrillas have been involved in peace talks with the objective of ending the armed struggle. During this course, both groups have implemented several innovative approaches and methods that are creating new standards in the area of conflict resolution. The new techniques have enhanced advancements in peace-making, peace-building, security, human rights, and international law at the local and international levels (Maldonado 2).
From the time the United Nation Secretary General announced his special adviser for Colombia, Jan Egeland, in 1999, the United Nations (UN) has played a significant but dispersed function in peace negotiations with FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Throughout the Pastrana administration, the parties agreed to UN intervention, providing a semi-formal obligation that was neither facilitation nor mediation. The lack of definition implied that the Special adviser’s several determinations were in some cases ignored during numerous failures in the negotiations. However, without this involvement, the negotiations would have lasted for a short time and present recognition of the need for international presence in the procedures would have been impossible (Ramírez Ocampo).
In his operation, Jan Egeland was escorted by James Lemoyne who succeeded him in the position. Lemoyne created an extensive contact with President Pastrana but experienced challenges with the High Commissioner for Peace who provided little information to the Secretary General’s workforce. The UN special adviser as well coordinated the engagement of other UN organs regarding the peace process. (Ramírez Ocampo).
Maintaining peace is among the numerous activities performed by the United Nations to keep global peace and security in the world. Nevertheless, the variation in terms of policy between keeping peace and other duties associated with peace and security has not been completely determined. The variation involves a vital significance for nations experiencing a major conflict, and perceives the UN as a firm partner with the gears essential for undertaking an active political procedure aimed at conflict resolution (Gutiérrez).
The United nation has highly engaged in Colombia’s recent determination to form a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Recently, the government and the FARC released a declaration of principles concerning victims, calling a commission of victims to engage in peace talks. Furthermore, the two parties asserted that the United Nations, together with other Colombian institutions, organize several forums aimed at victims presenting proposals based on fulfilling their rights to truth, justice, compensations, and non-recurrence. Following the announcement, the parties released new guidelines for several delegations of victims to engage in peace talks. The UN and the National University including the Bishops Conference of Colombia were invited to offer aid in arranging for the victims’ participation in the process (Gutiérrez).
The United Nation’s has intervened in Colombia’s peace process through the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Nevertheless, as an ultimate consensus with the FARC comes closer, the UN will undertake a highly critical function. The International Crisis Group (ICG), an international NGO that deals with conflict prevention released a report that comprised several recommendations for different actors engaged in Colombia’s peace talks, including the international community. The report states that the international community has to be prepared to provide aid in the form of a joint implementation committee and confidential politics dialogues. Concerning this issue, the report anticipates parties to request for a truce and demilitarization confirmation mission prior to the last agreement (Gutiérrez).
The ICG recommendations are vital in terms of the UN obligation in peacekeeping. According to the UN’s Principles and Guidelines on Peacekeeping Operations, peacekeeping is not similar to peacemaking, peace enforcement or peace building. Therefore, it is essential to find out the roles the UN should undertake in Colombia’s peace process.
Peacekeeping denotes the aim of the UN in the adoption of agreements attained by peacemakers. Nevertheless, it is not similar to peacemaking because ‘making peace’ is linked to processes employed in addressing conflicts in progress that normally entail a diplomatic action. To cause confusion, the UN can as well intervene through peace building, which entails activities aimed at reinforcing national capacities for managing conflicts and improving the capacity of the state to execute its vital duties efficiently.
The limits between these responsibilities can be distorted on the ground. Nevertheless, the UN’s determinations in the Colombia’s case need to tackle one important concern under the peace and security obligation: monitoring and evaluating. The ICG report denotes a sharply polarized environment in Colombia. Thus, the UN must utilize the entire institutional architecture into monitoring the conformity of the terms of agreement by the signing parties. Largely, Colombia requires the UN to be a sincere peacemaker in terms of issuing terms of involvement between the civil society, government, and the FARC (Gutiérrez).
The UN’s involvement with the victims of the FARC is necessary, which will entail a lot of cooperation between the OHCHR and the Colombian government. Lastly, the UN needs to assess every initiative considered in this case, mainly by the state, in ensuring respect for the victims’ rights and securing a long and maintainable peace. Moreover, through either peacekeeping or peacemaking, the UN’s intervention in the peace process is focused on setting Colombia on an eternal path towards peace.
In January 2016, the bargaining groups called for an oversight from the UN to create an observer mission for enhancing the laying down of arms. On January 25, the UN sanctioned a resolution adopting a 12-month political mission for monitoring and verifying the conclusive consensual ceasefire and termination of conflicts. The mission comprises unarmed international observers that include Latin American and Caribbean representatives, and will start its obligation once the peace deal is signed.
Regardless of his reluctance to involve in the dialogue with the FARC without a unilateral ceasefire, President Uribe requested the UN to intervene in the Colombian armed conflict when he took over power, and called for the presence of Blue Helmets to safeguard the displaced population from the inclemency of war. This was later reformed to a call for a Civil Accompaniment Commission to help with the comeback of internally displaced individuals to their initial residences. He also purposed to utilize such a strategy to confirm the negotiation process begun with the AUC. Additionally, no recommendation suggested has this far obtained a positive response from the UN. (Ramírez Ocampo).
James Lemoyne, a special adviser, has upheld contact with the FARC with the intention of arranging for official meeting. Additionally, this process had not happened because of UN demands that it should take place outside Colombia and other actors should not be involved. Moreover, the UN also demanded that excessive publicity should not be a part of it. Regardless of declining the UN’s proposal to intervene, the FARC wrote an open later to the UN requesting a chance to present its case. It is believable that the UN would start facilitating the resolution of the armed conflict in Colombia again if asked and agreed upon by the parties, as the UN Charter states. It could utilize the experiences acquired since 1999 and provide an efficient service to create peace in Colombia. (Ramírez Ocampo).
The need to back the UN’s obligation in Colombia and its office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was among the decisions agreed on at a congregation in London on 9-10 July 2003 where ten governments and six organizations, including the UN, EU (European Union), and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) participated. The members also showed complete backup for the Colombian government’s war against ferocity and drugs, the pursuit for a bargained solution to the internal conflict, and the significant function played by the Colombian civil society. In addition, donor nations showed concern about the humanitarian disaster, compelled displacements, and the severe human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) condition. They accepted to change their cooperation programs and proceed with dialogues in the subsequent conference on donor coordination (Bayer 64).
The UN intervention is comparatively highly effective in civil wars projected to take a longer duration. Nevertheless, the UN as an international peacekeeping power is not supposed to ration its range to that of conflicts that take longer durations but instead decide the type of conflicts to influence based on their effects or possible impacts on the international community.
The UN has had a positive influence on several civil wars and has assisted in curbing battles and bringing all opposing parties around the negotiating table in several incidences of civil conflict. However, it is still weighed down by their mediation failures (Ryan 70). To escalate the chances of achievement, the UN peacekeeping missions should recognize that the conflict duration highly depends on domestic factors. Additionally, they should try to directly change the manner in which the factors interrelate with the opposing parties and the war. This step is significant when it comes to assisting the UN in increasing their peacekeeping achievement rate and, thus, assisting in stemming the violence from civil wars that have highly multiplied in the past years (Avilés 411).
The United States has greatly invested in the Colombian civil war. Although it has not planned a direct military intervention in Colombia, it has influenced the advancement of the war by compelling the Colombian government to maintain policy that will bring it benefits . It is clear that the United States has a great interest in Colombia; nevertheless, the remaining Permanent Five in the United Nations Security Council appear to be less concerned about the result of the civil war or the nation of Colombia. Throughout the civil war, the Security Council has provided one resolution on the state of affairs in Colombia, Resolution 1465 that criticized a blast in the capital city of Bogota. By assessing the probable UN efficiency, it seems that the UN peacekeeping operations would not assist in reducing the duration of the Colombian conflict. Moreover, the interests of the United States only are not sufficient for the UN Security Council to provide a peacekeeping mission to Colombia.
Avilés, William. “US intervention in Colombia: The role of Transnational relations.” Bulletin of Latin American Research 27.3 (2008): 410-429.
Bayer, Anna-Karina. “Peace processes in Colombia: international third-party interventions.” Journal of Peace, Conflict & Development 20 (2013).
Gutiérrez, Felipe Franco. More Than Just Peacekeeping: The UN’s Involvement in Colombia’s peace process. 29 April 2011. https://debateglobal.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/more-than-just-peacekeeping-the-uns-involvement-in-colombias-peace-process/
Acessed 14 December 2016.
Maldonado, Andrés Ucrós. “Early lessons from the Colombian peace process.” (2016).
Ramírez Ocampo, Augusto. “The role of the international community in Colombia.” Alternatives to war: Colombia’s Peace Process, Accord 14 (2004): 74-78.
Ryan, Kristina. “The Effect of United Nations Peacekeeping Interventions on Civil War Duration: A Case Study Approach.” (2012).