The world’s longest war is over.

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Columbia reaches a peace deal
By Jerry Brownstein
A final peace agreement in 2018 between the Colombian government and the leftwing Farc guerrillas heralds the end of the world’s longest-running war, and provides a new model for reconciling bitter enemies. This conflict dates all the way back to 1948, and during that time both sides have committed countless violent crimes against innocent people. To make this deal work each side had to overcome seemingly insurmountable differences over how to create a transitional justice process to deal with these crimes.

They eventually reached a judicial framework that drew heavily on the experience of the peace models used in previous conflicts. These included the former Yugoslavia, the end of Apartheid in South Africa, and the British and Irish Good Friday Agreement. Taking the best from each of these, the Colombians forged a groundbreaking hybrid that is “probably something that has never been achieved in any peace negotiations,” according to President Juan Manuel Santos. A special tribunal will be established to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate all crimes against humanity that were committed by both sides during the conflict.

There will be two types of procedures in these ‘Peace Courts’. Those who come forward immediately to confess their war crimes will face a procedure similar to that of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They will openly repent for their crimes and do community service, but will not have to go to prison. Others who do not come forward quickly will face more stringent trials, and risk going behind bars. These war crime procedures will apply to both the rebel fighters and also those who fought for the state.


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