Colombia’s armed conflict has spanned five decades, with fighting between the central government, right-wing paramilitaries, and left-wing guerilla groups such as the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Bandas criminales (BACRIM) are criminal groups comprising mostly former paramilitaries, who frequently clash with other armed groups and state forces.
FARC peace agreement
The Colombian government and the FARC signed a peace deal on 26 September 2016, after four years of negotiation and 52 years of conflict. It covers reparations and justice for the victims, the establishment of a special tribunal, and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of FARC.? After the deal was rejected in a referendum, a new agreement was signed on 24 November 2016.?On 28 December 2016, Congress approved the Amnesty Law, which determines which crimes are pardonable and provides the FARC with a guarantee that those not accused of grave crimes will be pardoned and reintegrated.?However, on 17 May, the Constitutional Court declared two aspects of the legal framework unconstitutional. Both clauses were central to allow the government to fast-track the peace process legislation through Congress. This enables opposition to the peace process to block legislation in Congress and could undermine the peace agreement.?The FARC declared a strike as a result and tensions remain high.?Meanwhile, Colombian President Santos granted amnesty or released from prison a total of 7,000 former fighters.?On 24 July, the FARC announced they will officially launch their own political party in September.?
Not all FARC members support the peace process, and defections and desertions from pre-demobilisation areas in Guaviare have been reported since the 2 October 2016 referendum. ??A UN peacekeeping force has been deployed to oversee DDR and implementation of the agreement.?? FARC completed demobilisation on 19 February, with around 6,900 FARC members in 26 transition zones, and disarmament on 27 June.? The UN agreed to engage in a second mission to oversee the peace process on 10 July. The mandate will start on 17 September 2017 and will last a year.?
Peace talks between the government and the ELN, scheduled for October, began on 7 February 2017. However, some ELN factions are opposed to the peace process and still perpetrate attacks, notably in Chocó and Nariño.?Although peace negotiations continue, agreement on a ceasefire is difficult as the ELN still conducts kidnappings.??A new cycle of negotiations started on 24 July in Quito and is expected to last until September.??
Different types of conflict are ongoing in Colombia: the traditional armed conflict between the ELN, the Colombian army and paramilitary groups such as the Urabeños, between FARC splinter groups trying to maintain control in the southwest, violence between dissident FARC fronts and paramilitary groups in the east, and political violence targeting local civil rights leaders.?The Colombian army is also pressuring FARC dissident factions to comply by conducting operations against their forces.?
Since peace talks between the government and the FARC began in 2012, violence has fallen to record lows, although clashes between armed groups, criminal groups, and state forces persist, particularly in the Pacific region. Over the past four years, the FARC have been withdrawing from their territory, and other armed groups have been moving in to fill the void. In 2016, there has been a notable increase in clashes between other armed groups and state forces in former FARC territory.???This is compounded by the Colombian government's lack of capacity to replace lucrative illegal ecomomies.?