Colombia’s plan to tackle its crime lords? Negotiation

President Gustavo Petro’s decision to talk to criminal groups will be carefully watched, but the policy is rife with problems, writes Mariano Aguirre.

The World Today Published 28 July 2023 4 minute READ

After taking office in August 2022, the Colombian president Gustavo Petro announced his intention and then received congressional authorization to negotiate with a range of armed groups. These were the Marxist National Liberation Army, known as the ELN, a series of criminal organizations and the violent dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as Farc, that emerged after the 2016 peace agreement was signed with the government.

Mediation and negotiations are difficult in armed conflicts, as they tend to be complex with different causes. Alliances can be flexible between state and non-state armed actors who do not respect humanitarian values or the rules of war and who have fragmented command chains. In this context, the Colombian experience could be important for future negotiations in similar conflicts.

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