In autumn 2012, Colombia’s government and the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) started direct peace negotiations, in an attempt to put an end to the 50-year old conflict, which has had over 5 million victims to date (assassinations, kidnappings, displaced persons and refugees, etc.).
Despite a history of failed negotiations with FARC, a fair amount of optimism surrounds these latest talks: both parties seem unable to win militarily and both have strong incentives to negotiate.
Indeed, although they unfold amid ongoing hostilities (a ceasefire will come into effect only if a final agreement is reached), negotiations have made some headway. Recently, FARC and government negotiators have agreed on the first issue on the agenda, relating to land reform.
However, the outcome of the talks remains uncertain, as four other difficult issues figure on the agenda: political participation, an end to the conflict, illegal drugs and victims’ rights. Moreover, if progress is not made fast enough, opposition to the negotiations might increase among the political class and in public opinion. Finally, other obstacles (remaining guerrillas, criminal groups etc.) could have a negative impact on the talks.