The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace agreement [text, in Spanish] on Monday that ends a more than 50-year conflict. The agreement was finalized [JURIST report] in August after four years of negotiations in Havana, Cuba. Witnesses to the signing included UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US secretary of state John Kerry, as well as hundreds of victims of the war. Under the accord, FARC has vowed [Guardian report] to sever all ties with the drug trade, hand over all its weapons and convert into a political party. A special tribunal will try war-related crimes, but those who confess to crimes against humanity will serve alternative sentences that do not involve jail time. Rodrigo Londoño, also known as Timoshenko, said, “[o]ur only weapons will be our words. In the name of the Farc I ask sincere forgiveness to all the victims of the conflict and for all the pain we may have caused in this war[.]” Colombian citizens will vote on Sunday whether to approve the deal.
The peace agreement seeks to end more than half a decade of conflict in the South American country that claimed [CNN report] more than 220,000 people and displaced countless others. In June the Colombian government and FARC signed [JURIST report] a ceasefire as the revolutionary forces transition to a peaceful political party. In January the UN Security Council unanimously approved [JURIST report] a resolution authorizing the creation of a political peace mission in Colombia to monitor the disarmament between the Colombian government and FARC rebels. In November Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos pardoned [JURIST report] 30 former guerrilla soldiers in jail for non-violent and minor crimes.