HOPE OVER FEAR: COLOMBIA’S PATH TO PEACE

by Mads Nissen for The Nobel Peace Center

A 52 year long violent civil war in Colombia is coming to an end. The war has been waged against one of the oldest armed rebel movements in the world – an organization whose members have been labelled criminals and narco-terrorists, but have nevertheless managed to survive and maintain a certain position of power.

Negotiations were the only way out of the conflict. The negotiations between the government and the guerrilla movement the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ignited a hope that Colombia could take a new and more peaceful course towards reconciliation, dialogue and much needed economic development.

But the journey has been long and hard. After six years of negotiations, a peace agreement was finally reached. The agreement was later rejected by a narrow margin in a national referendum, to everyone’s surprise.

Despite this setback, President Juan Manuel Santos did not give up. Large crowds took to the streets in support of the peace deal. New negotiations ended in a revised agreement, which was signed on 12 November 2016.

From start to finish, President Juan Manuel Santos has been the unstoppable force behind the difficult peace process. At no time has he shown any sign of giving up, and it was for this persistence that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But the prize is also dedicated to the Colombian people, and particularly the conflict’s many victims, who have taken part in the peace negotiations and helped to open the way for reconciliation and forgiveness.

Many years of work lie ahead to build peace – because true peace is not created by signing a piece of paper. It is created by people working hard together, living together and resolving their disagreements without resorting to violence. Peace is created when hope overcomes fear.