by Celestino Barrera Alarcón
The main objective of The Social Roundtable for Peace is to create space for negotiations between the government and civil society around major social, political and economic conflicts that form the basis for the civil war in Colombia which has unfortunately lasted for more than 50 years.
This Roundtable is comprised of social movements, political organizations and NGOs that have come together to tell the government and the insurgency that a lasting peace is one built by all sectors of society, and that peace without the participation of civil society is not peace, but just a deal between armed actors.
To achieve this objective, the Social Roundtable for Peace is a civil society initiative whose main objective is to open direct lines of communication, [binding participation] and to create a common agenda for peacebuilding.
Another objective of the Roundtable is show our support for the official negotiations between the government and insurgency . Even though these official negotiations have not, as of yet, provided the channel for civil society input that we desire, we remain firm in our belief that an accord between warring parties must be reached, and that it would be an essential step towards long-lasting peace in Colombia.
Nonetheless, it is clear to the Roundtable that peace should not be limited to what is negotiated between armed opponents – between the government and the guerrillas. The proposal to articulate a common agenda for peace is born out of the various social, economic and political movements’ need to be heard by and included in the plans of the national government.
With this premise, the Social Roundtable gives voice to proposals created over the last few decades by women, workers, small farmers, indigenous, Afro-descendant and academic and communities committed to democracy and respect for human and environmental rights.
Negotiations between the government of Presiedent Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) began in November 2012, and currently there are exploratory talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN).
The Social Roundtable’s most immediate concern is thatthe negotiations between government and insurgency do not endwithout an agreement on the termination of the armed conflict, a bilateral ceasefire, dismantling of drug cartels and paramilitary structures and and end to the political, judicial and military persecution of social movements that have been systematically assasinated, imprisoned and persecuted, even while peace talks have proceded.
The Social Roundtable for Peace was publicly launched on November 5, 2015 in Bogota. Read the Call to Strengthen the participation of society in peace talks.
By Celestino Barrera A – @OttoRen