Washington, D.C.—Civil society groups, activists, and academics urged the negotiators of the peace talks between the Colombian government and guerrilla group the National Liberation Army (ELN, Ejército de Liberación Nacional) to do their utmost to make a peace agreement a reality. More than 14 U.S.-based organizations and 27 activists declared their support for the peace negotiations, calling on the parties to extend their first-ever temporary bilateral ceasefire, which lasted from October 1, 2017 to January 9, 2018.
The letter made additional recommendations, including setting up mechanisms for the participation of civil society in the peace talks, and to strongly encourage the integration of communities from Chocó department, which has been hard hit by the conflict. The letter asks that a potential peace process integrate the humanitarian action plan developed by Chocoan civil society last year.
Negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN have been underway in Quito, Ecuador since early 2017, in a bid to end more than 53 years of conflict. During the temporary ceasefire, the insurgent group promised to suspend hostage-taking, attacks on roads and oil installations, the use of land mines, and the recruitment of minors. In turn, the government agreed to improve protection for community leaders and conditions for about 450 jailed rebels.