The bilateral cease-fire announced between the government and the FARC is being widely interpreted as the end of the war.
After more than 50 years of armed conflict, Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, will sign a bilateral cease-fire on June 23.
This is the latest and perhaps one of the decisive agreements in the mediated peace process which began in Cuba in 2012, and is set to culminate in July, 2016.
The bilateral truce is monumental, but is not the last step. These are the key points of the cease-fire, its implications, and what can come after.
1. When will the cease-fire take effect?
The agreement on June 23 gave terms for implementing the cease-fire, but not a specific date.
For the truce to take place, the United Nations must be involved to supervise and verify, including setting protocols in place and installing some 300 people in different areas with established channels of communication between the parties, the public and others.
The delegations did not reveal details of whether the cessation of hostilities will take place by a specific time or if it will be implemented in phases.
However, since late 2015 the FARC declared a unilateral cease-fire and the government suspended bombing of FARC camps.
3. What are “concentration areas”?
Concentration areas are territories where FARC troops will go temporarily in order to verify the cease-fire.
The number of zones were a point of contention between parties, with the FARC insisting that number be the same as the number of fronts within their ranks, while the government has argued that having less – between seven to 10, but more than 25 – would make the process of verification easier.
In the end, 23 of these areas were announced on Thursday.
Regarding their location, the FARC have insisted these be in the areas where they have had a historical presence whereas the Santos government has said there should be no civilian populations.
These areas are expected to be temporary, but it is also not known how long these areas would be in effect for. The High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, said that these zones should not only serve to facilitate the disarming of FARC troops, but also for their transition to civilian life.
4. Who will control who comes in and out of these area?
While it is confirmed that the UN will be responsible for verification, it is not yet known who will be in charge in these areas or what model they will implement to govern these areas.
Chief negotiators have said these zones will not be “independent republics,” and Thursday’s statements referenced the presence of some authorities.
The cease-fire agreement stipulates that Columbia’s armed forces will mobilize in order to facilitate movement of FARC troops to the camp, while also stating that no civilians would be allowed in the camp and that FARC troops could move out of the camp as civilians.
5. How will disarmament of the FARC take place?
While previously the Colombian government said disarming would begin 60 days after signing the final peace agreement, the current accord specifies 180 days.
In April, the FARC said that Ricardo Palmera alias “Simon Trinidad”, who is currently imprisoned in the United States, must coordinate the handover of arms to the United Nations.
The government also committed to provide security measures for FARC members once they disarm, in order to prevent the massacre of left-wing activists as occured in the mid-1980’s when guerrilla movements disarmed and formed the Patriotic Union (UP). Thursday’s agreement also includes a commitment for providing education and job training to disarmed FARC soldiers.
Also, when the insurgents are in the concentration areas, the transitional justice system agreed to by both parties will be begin to operate.
6. How will the danger of criminal and paramilitary groups be addressed?
The agreement for a cease-fire also included an agreement for “Security guarantees and the fight against criminal organizations responsible for killings and massacres … including the criminal organizations that have been designated as successor of paramilitary groups and their support networks.”
In May, Colombia’s executive branch approved a new security strategy that allows the use of the full force of the state against major criminal and paramilitary group.
Nevertheless, there are lingering concerns about the dangers posed by these groups to peace activists and demobilized guerrillas given the evidence of complicity between these groups and Colombia’s armed forces and police.
7. When will the Final Agreement be signed and confirmed?
On June 20, President Juan Manuel Santos said negotiations would end in an agreement on July 20. While FARC leaders have balked at a specific date, they have not discounted this general timeline.
The cease-fire agreement also included an agreement on the popular consultation, with parties agreeing to abide by a ruling by the Constitutional Court on the form and aspects of the consultation.
The FARC-EP had proposed a National Constituent Assembly, while the Santos government pushed for a plebiscite.