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Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
For I am with you, and no one shall attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.
Acts 18:9b-10

The executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) expresses its deep appreciation to the churches, to the people, and to the government of Colombia for the opportunity to meet in Bogotá on 6 to 11 June 2024, at this pivotal moment in the search for just and sustainable peace in Colombia. The WCC has a long history of supporting and accompanying its member church and ecumenical partners in Colombia in their efforts for an end to conflict, for human rights, and for economic and environmental justice in this country. In the Colombian government’s current approach to ‘total peace’, we see much that aligns closely with the ecumenical movement’s vision and understanding of ‘the things that make for peace’.[1]

Among the many ways in which the WCC seeks to support and accompany the ‘total peace’ project, the executive committee welcomes and affirms the appointment of Dr Humberto Shikiya as WCC Special Envoy for the peace processes in Colombia, supported by Rev. Prof. Dr Fernando Enns and Rev. Dr Chris Ferguson. We affirm and support the role that WCC has been invited to play as a ‘Permanent Accompanier’ in the peace dialogue table between the Colombian government and the Estado Mayor Central (EMC) of the FARC-EP. We celebrate the achievements of this dialogue process to date, including the bilateral ceasefire since 17 October 2023. 

However, we deeply regret the suspension of this ceasefire in the departments of Nariño, Cauca and Valle del Cauca since 17 March 2024, due to serious incidents of violence in these three departments of the south west, including the killing of Carmelina Yule Pavi, leader of the community of the indigenous Nasa people, in the north of Cauca. The divisions that have subsequently emerged within the EMC FARC-EP, and the military offensives by elements of the public forces in territories where a ceasefire is in principle in effect, have rendered the next steps in the dialogue process much more complicated and fragile. Meanwhile, difficulties are also confronting the work of the peace dialogue table with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and other aspects of the ‘total peace’ project. These challenges notwithstanding, the recent commencement of dialogue with the guerrilla of the Second Marquetalia is a fresh sign of hope.

According to many counterparts in Colombia, the Social Dialogues implemented by the Colombian Government are among the most effective initiatives for ‘total peace’. These local dialogues are considered to have saved countless lives by replacing police violence and repression with constructive dialogue and negotiation.

The participation of civil society in the peace processes in Colombia is key for advancing structural transformations, and achieving a just and sustainable peace with social and environmental justice, both at the territorial as well as the national level.

Moreover, there are many women, young people, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, and religious leaders/actors working in peacebuilding at the grassroots whose contributions may not be well recognized but who are risking their lives and facing grave threats for their work in peace and justice.

The executive committee:

Stresses that violence cannot bring sustainable peace to Colombia, and cannot produce positive results for the benefit of the civilian population. The suspension of the ceasefire in places where this has occurred has led to an immediate escalation of violence, increasing once again the suffering of the people and communities in the affected areas. Dialogue is the only viable means of achieving sustainable peace.

Urges all relevant actors in Colombia – government, military forces, armed groups, civil society, churches and faith communities – to seize this precious chance to secure a just and sustainable peace for current and future generations, rather than reverting to the divisions, injustices, armed violence and violations of human rights that have marked Colombia’s history for so many years. We call upon all armed actors to engage in dialogue for the establishment of lasting ceasefires and peace agreements, and to commit to the full implementation of such agreements, and for the government to provide the necessary basis for reintegration of those who lay down their arms.

Calls upon the Colombian Government and all armed actors in Colombia to respect international humanitarian and human rights law, to ensure that the civilian population is protected from violence and harm resulting from conflict.

Calls upon all armed groups in Colombia to desist from kidnapping, and from the recruitment of minors.

Appeals to all members of the international community to provide increased moral, political and material support for the peace processes in Colombia in this pivotal moment.

Emphasizes the critical necessity of addressing the underlying root causes of conflict, instability and lack of social cohesion in Colombia, including the very high levels of income inequality, lack of economically viable livelihood opportunities, and entrenched racial injustice and discrimination.

Reaffirms the commitment of the WCC to working together with DiPaz (Interchurch Dialogue for Peace in Colombia) and the churches and civil society of Colombia towards the objective of ‘total peace’, including addressing the root causes of the absence of sustainable peace.

Acknowledges that the WCC’s role in international accompaniment of the peace processes in Colombia must include strengthening, supporting and protecting the grassroots actors for peace, justice and human rights in Colombia.

Invites all WCC member churches and ecumenical partners to accompany the churches and people of Colombia in prayer and action for the realization of their aspirations for sustainable peace and justice in their country and in their communities.

[1] https://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/the-things-that-make-for-peace-moving-the-world-to-reconciliation-and-unity