Special Envoy Bernie Aronson and the Colombia Peace Accords

Professor Pat Paterson and Special Envoy Bernie Aronson
 
June 01, 2016

Bernie Aronson, the US Special Envoy to the Colombia Peace Talks, spoke at the Perry Center about his experiences in Havana and Bogotá. In a 1-on-1 conversation with Perry Center Professor Pat Paterson, Mr. Aronson spoke of the negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government to end the 52-year long internal conflict in the country.

Aronson, a veteran diplomat assigned as a facilitator to the peace talks in February 2015 by Secretary of State John Kerry, shared his insider’s perspective from nearly 20 trips to the peace talks. According to Aronson, the two parties are working through some delicate issues on how to implement matters of demobilization, disarmament, and accountability. In his estimation, a formal peace accord will be signed in the next few months.

Many of Mr. Aronson’s remarks concerned the dynamics and structure of the talks between the two groups. His experiences with conflict resolution efforts in El Salvador and his years as a State Department diplomat taught him that patience, empathy, and emotional intelligence are critical skills in these circumstances. There are serious concerns about what will follow after the peace accord is signed – human rights trials, a truth commission, a United Nations monitoring team, reintegration of former guerrilla fighters into Colombian society – and there are no short cuts to such challenging tasks. However, Colombia has a very capable government with developed institutions and a professional army that will make the transition from war to peace achievable, he said.

Mr. Aronson also addressed the role Cuba and Norway play as "guarantor" nations, gestures of remorse and apologies by the FARC, the Colombian extradition policy, the impact of low oil prices on the post conflict efforts, and the illicit drug industry in the country.


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