ABColombia urges the Colombian government to seek a peaceful and negotiated solution to the internal armed conflict – Colombia


On January 17, 2019, the Ejercito de Liberation Nacional (ELN) guerrilla group detonated a car bomb in front of the General Santander National Police Cadet School in Bogota, Colombia. This bomb injured 68 people and killed 21 police cadets. ABColombia rejects this atrocious attack, which constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), which the ELN claims to respect.[1] Cadets are students and have never taken a direct part in hostilities and as such are not legitimate military targets. “They might one day join the armed forces and become fighters, but until then they are just students.”[2]

Peace talks started between the ELN and the Colombian state under Juan Manuel Santos; the parties have established a protocol in case the talks break down without an agreement. The protocol was signed between Frank Pearl, chief peace negotiator appointed by the Colombian government for the ELN peace talks, and Antonio García, head of the ELN delegation. It gave the ELN 15 days to return to Colombia if they walked away from the table without reaching an agreement, and stipulated that military action against the rebels must cease for 72 hours, allowing commanders of the ELN in Cuba to reach bases in ‘agreed-on areas. It also provides for the ELN negotiators to be accompanied to the airport by the Cuban authorities, supervised by at least two other guarantor nations. The guarantor nations of the peace talks with the ELN are Cuba, Chile, Norway and Brazil.

Following the car bombing, the government of Ivan Duque reissued international arrest warrants from Interpol for the ELN negotiators and asked Cuba to arrest and fire them. However, given that the Colombian State, before starting Peace talks with the ELN in Cuba, signed a protocol outlining the agreements in case the talks failed, the guarantor countries insisted that the protocol be respected. Nevertheless, President Ivan Duque refused to adhere to this protocol, saying that it had been drawn up by the previous government.

However, such guarantees are a typical safeguard for peace negotiations. If these types of protocols did not exist, third countries would never agree to provide a venue for negotiations or to act as guarantors. This decision by the Colombian government, if continued, will have serious repercussions on the international scene of peace processes, since it means that it is possible that other states could, at any time, unilaterally end the negotiations and demand that the host country stops the negotiators.

the International community “warned of the ‘alarming negative precedent’ created by inaction on state protocols, not just for Colombia, but for peace efforts around the world.”[3]

“Basic conditions for peace negotiations are a minimum of reliable protections for all parties involved: for [Germany]it means rules that are adhered to if negotiations fail.” – German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth [4]

ABColombia and its members reject the car bomb attack on the police cadet school in Bogotá**. We urge the Colombian government to adhere to the protocol established by the state with the ELN and to continue to work for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the internal armed conflict in Colombia.**

The measures taken by the ELN and the Colombian government do not comply with the desire of civil society and the international community to end the armed conflict in Colombia

Remarks

[1] Rodrigo Uprimmy, Is it valid for Colombia to demand that Cuba hand over the ELN negotiators? (DeJusticia, January 24, 2019)

[2] Rodrigo Uprimmy, Is it valid for Colombia to demand that Cuba hand over the ELN negotiators?

[3] Emily Hart, Colombia challenges Germany for breaking international peace agreements (Colombia Reports, February 13, 2019)

[4] Quoted in Colombia Reports: Emily Hart, Colombia challenges Germany for breaking international peace agreements (Colombia Reports, February 13, 2019)

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