Columbia’s President is to study peace proposals devised in Derry, the country’s UK ambassador has said.
An end to hostilities, victims’ rights, political participation, land reform and drug-trafficking in Colombia were among the topics for discussion at the three day event hosted by INCORE, the University of Ulster’s International Conflict Research Institute at Magee and Rotary Club of Londonderry last weekend.
Delegates from Colombia and the United States joined experts, policy makers and researchers from Northern Ireland and the UK to examine how lessons learned from 15 years of post-agreement politics in Northern Ireland could contribute to the Colombian peace efforts.
Professor Brandon Hamber, INCORE Director explained that the event was structured around the five key themes that formed part of the Colombian negotiation agenda.
“While every peace process always requires tailor-made and innovative negotiation formats, as well as implementation strategies, there are different levels of comparability with Northern Ireland,” said Professor Hamber.
Colombian Ambassador, Mauricio Rodriguez said his country’s peace process was full of obstacles with extremists on both sides trying to abort the process but it was important to remember that the vast majority of Colombians are in favour of peace.
He said the conflict had claimed many thousands of lives and wasted billions of dollars and he hoped the weekend deliberations would led to enlightened recommendations that would help the peace process in Colombia.
Martin McGuinness said that as Sinn Fein chief negotiator during the format of the 1998 Agreement in Northern Ireland, he felt privileged to be involved in one of the most successful peace processes in the world but cautioned that there was still a considerable way to go.
Citing examples of other peace process around the world, he said that for any peace process to be successful, it had to be inclusive. He appealed to all parties involved in the Colombian peace process not to ignore the ordinary people ‘who have been affected by a conflict that is way above their heads’.
“All sides must work on building trust and be dedicated to achieving a peaceful resolution. They need to make gestures and be prepared to accept compromises to show how serious they are about achieving a peaceful outcome.”