Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | April 17, 2014

Peace Commissioner Jaramillo explains the peace process at Harvard

Colombian High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo spoke recently at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

Jaramillo emphasized the peace process with the FARC this time is betting on inclusion, inviting all Colombians to do their part toward peace-building. Yet, it is very telling of theory-versus-practice that his presentation took place at Harvard, an elite institution, and the ones who had the opportunity to ask the commissioner questions face-to-face were graduate students from elite institutions like Harvard or Fletcher.

But! For the rural Colombian who does not attend Harvard or Fletcher, Jaramillo welcomes comments via a web page! And yet Colombians in remote rural areas, whose very futures are being discussed, hardly have access to the Internet.

Jaramillo’s talk covered important ground. It did not receive much attention in Colombia except a mere mention by a columnist in Semana magazine. 

You can watch his presentation here. (I apologize that embedding has been disabled for this video.)

I want to draw attention to minute 46:17 in which Jaramillo skims over the proposed political quotas (presumably) for FARC leaders via temporary congressional districts. Without added detail, it is easy to think these political quotas are the Trojan Horse of the current negotiations.

Jaramillo said, “.. We agreed to political participation with the FARC. That we were willing to create new electoral districts in those peripheral areas of Colombia that suffered the most from the conflict. With special rules as to who can be a candidate, who can be elected. To make sure that the system is not taken over by the existing parties, and that is not a comment against the existing parties, it’s a comment about opening up room for new voices. And the purpose of that was, on the one hand, to implement a transitional because it won’t be forever, it will be over a period of time to be established, let’s say ten years, where you will have new members of congress who come from those regions, and we think that is a very important measure of political integration, which you are trying to achieve in the end is inclusion and territorial integration in the country. But at the same time you can see it and we do see it as a reparation measure for the political rights of those people who have suffered the conflict. ..”

(What special rules as to who can be a candidate, and who can be elected?)

At 1:02:07, Jaramillo is asked about the post-conflict role of FARC leaders who are invested in the conflict and have gained power and status from the conflict. How will those leaders be neutralized in the post-conflict?

(See: Former members of EPL went on to control drug trade and FARC likely will reorganize into splinter criminal groups.)

At 1:07:11, Jaramillo said, “That is a very serious question… we have to rethink the way we incorporate ex-leaders in the case of the FARC. Colombians have been doing this for more than 20 years, more, for 25 years, reincorporating guerrillas and paramilitaries, and the model is a classic one: we set up a program to help you, and I hope you find your way into  society. … And yet, you have to first ask yourself the question, what are you trying to achieve? In this case, in this process, if you have a vision that is not just about FARC but inclusion, and if you learn lessons of the past, especially the recent past of what happened to some of those demobilized, then you come to the conclusion, if not do things entirely different then have to have complementary kinds of programs, and especially find ways in this institution-building efforts in those regions to make sure there is a place for some of these demobilized, including for those senior commanders. .. So they become part of the peace-building effort, and they see that by demobilizing, they are contributing to this collective. .. It is to reinforce the message that this process has to be about inclusion.”

At 1:09:49, a question is asked about the roles of transitional justice and the International Criminal Court.

At 1:10:05, Jaramillo said, “The answer is that it’s neither one nor the other…. The question remains, what about punishment? .. That remains to be seen .. it depends very much on what happens, and how willing FARC is to take serious victims rights. … We do think that it is possible to address victim rights .. over larger effort, over guaranteeing everyone’s rights, especially in those conflict areas, then you have a more rounded view of what ideal justice is.”


Joint Report of the Negotiating Table between the government of the Republic of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army, FARC-EP. January 2014.

Transition in Colombia. By: Sergio Jaramillo, High Commissioner for Peace. (Complete text of the speech given by the High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, at Externado University on 9 May 2013, published by El Tiempo.)

General Agreement to end the conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting Peace.



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