The “breakthrough” agreement signed this week by the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) on victims of the decades-long conflict also acknowledges the various forms of violence that women have suffered and removes amnesties for the most serious crimes such as sexual violence, two senior United Nations officials said today.
“We congratulate the many actors, that have made this breakthrough possible,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, and Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, in a joint statement.
The agreement on 15 December 2015 between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) on truth, justice, reparations and non-repetition for the victims “marks a milestone on the path to ending five decades of conflict, and puts the rights of the victims at the heart of the peace and transitional justice process,” the statement said.
“The agreement acknowledges the different forms of violence that women have suffered, including conflict-related sexual violence, and integrates gender equality comprehensively,” it said. “It emphasizes the specific impact that the conflict has had on women and girls, and acknowledges the transformative potential of gender equality and the protection of women’s rights,” it said.
The statement also described as “a crucial step forward in the fight against impunity” the decision to remove amnesties for the most serious crimes, including conflict-related sexual violence.
Saying Colombian women have worked tirelessly to play a significant role in this process, the two officials urged that women continue to have a key role in the implementation of this agreement, including with regard to the design of reparation programmes.
“One of the key goals of this agreement relates to guarantees of non-repetition so that the crimes of the conflict never occur again,” the statement said. “It is therefore crucial that in every aspect of the implementation of this and previous agreements, Colombia also addresses the structural inequalities and discrimination that lie at the root of conflict-related sexual violence and gender-based violence more generally.”
The statement also called on the international community to continue to support Colombia, as it seizes this historic opportunity to bring peace and justice to its people in a process that will serve as a source of inspiration for the region and for the world.
The FARC have been in talks with the Government for the past two years, seeking to end a 51-year conflict that has left almost a quarter of a million victims.