Agreement on starting negotiations with Colombia’s ELN guerrillas

The Colombian Government and the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) agreed today to start formal peace negotiations. The breakthrough has been achieved after more than two years of confidential exploratory talks, with Norway’s assistance throughout. Norway has been asked to continue as facilitator in the formal phase, together with Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela. The negotiations will be held in these Latin American countries.

‘It is very good news that a formal peace process with the ELN is opening. Reaching a peace agreement with the ELN will be crucial for ensuring lasting peace in Colombia. This is a historic opportunity for the country to bring an end to several decades of armed conflict,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The agenda for the negotiations has six parts, and emphasises the importance of active civil society participation on issues such as democracy and social change for peace. The rights of victims will also be in focus.

ELN is Colombia’s second largest left-wing guerrilla group after Farc-EP, and was founded in 1964. Norway is already acting as facilitator in the peace process with Farc-EP, which started in 2012, and has also been involved in several previous peace talks with the ELN. The armed conflict in Colombia has lasted for more than 50 years and has had severe humanitarian consequences and caused great suffering. Several hundred thousand people have been killed, and more than five million people have been internally displaced.