Dr h.c. Humberto Shikiya

Dr h.c. Humberto Shikiya, WCC special envoy for the peace process in Colombia.


The World Council of Churches is a permanent accompanier in the Round Table of Peace Dialogues, together with representatives of the Catholic Church, the United Nations Verification Mission, and the Permanent Peace Accompaniment Mission of the Organization of American States.

Dr h.c. Humberto Shikiya, WCC special envoy for the peace process in Colombia, took time to speak about the challenges and successes of the WCCs unprecedented involvement in Colombias peace process.

That WCC has a role that is a unique responsibility because historically it has been the Catholic Church that has assumed that role as the only religious entity that participates in a Peace Dialogue Roundtable,” explained Shikiya. 

In the first two dialogue meetings between the government of Colombia and the Estado Mayor Central of the FARC-EP, Shikiya co-moderated—together with Archbishop Monsignor Omar Sanchez, vice president of the Colombian Episcopal Conference—the sessions that allowed consensus between both parties on the Special Agreement for the Installation of the Round Table of Peace Dialogues and Negotiations between the delegations of the Colombian Government and the Central General Staff of the FARC-EP.

It has been a blessing to carry out this task that allowed us to achieve the bilateral agreement to install the Round Table,” said Shikiya. I am sure that the initial invocation of ecumenical prayer shared with Monsignor Omar Sanchez in the first sessions allowed the Holy Spirit to build trust between both parties.”

Shikiya described how, in the end of the session that reached the special agreement, he remembered in his heart the words of Jesus: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God.”

Whats coming

In the coming days, the 5th Cycle of the Round Table of Peace Dialogues will begin. Shikiya believes that the greatest challenge will be to achieve the renewal of the bilateral ceasefire until the end of 2024. This would allow us to mutually build the agenda with the peace issues that will finally move towards the agreement of a just and sustainable peace,” said Shikiya. To achieve this, it is key to consider the participation of civil society in the peace agenda. Peace can only be fair and sustainable with the participation of the people.”

Sharing best practices

The World Council of Churches was invited to the Sixth Conference on National Dialogues and Non-Formal Dialogues on Peace Processes and Mediation, held 10-12 June in Helsinki, Finland.

The first National Dialogues Conference was held in 2014. Since then, it has served as an important platform to share best practices in peace mediation, as well as a meeting place for those involved in different processes and peace dialogues.

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the Conference on National Dialogues and Non-Formal Dialogue Processes. The conference asked itself about the best way to adapt dialogue processes to the current context affected by the polycrisis,” explained Shikiya. The conference invited participants to consider the role of national dialogues and non-formal dialogue processes in enhancing resilience, preventing and resolving conflicts, and maintaining peace.”

The National Dialogues Conference was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, and Finn Church Aid, in cooperation with the Foundation Abilis.

Shikiya participated as part of a panel during a special session, The Role of Religious Actors in the Peace Processes in Colombia.” 

The interest in peace in Colombia has been important in the conference given the relevance that religious actors have in peace processes,” said Shikiya. The World Council of Churches, as a permanent acompanier in the Round Table of Peace Dialogues between the government and the Estado Mayor Central of the FARC-EP, has been able to contribute in an articulated way its commitment together with the national Protestant and evangelical churches, and other related organizations.”

During the conference, the World Council of Churches also participated together with DIPaz and the Catholic Church in a peer-to-peer learning workshop with actors from Myanmar. 

The dialogue and exchange produced with the leaders of the Euro-Burma Office was a first dialogue of knowledge and learning about the realities of both contexts, with conflicts crossed by violence,” said Shikiya. "Although they are processes with different complexities, the dialogue has been inspiring in the search for hope for peace that is just and sustainable, based on a democracy strengthened by the full exercise of human rights by all.”

Dr Shikiya

Shikiya during one of the sessions of the Sixth Conference on National Dialogues and Non-Formal Dialogues on Peace Processes and Mediation, held 10-12 June in Helsinki, Finland.


Expanding the role

Shikiya has seen firsthand that the World Council of Churches can coordinate certain actions with the international community involved in the peace processes in Colombia at different levels: territorial, national, regional and international, and with different issues related to the participation of civil society, peace pedagogy, the training of peace managers, and advocacy actions.

The WCC could contribute to the achievement of peace agreements in Colombia, sharing the experiences of certain peace and reconciliation processes that have concluded in a sustainable and lasting way,” he said. For example, the peace and reconciliation process in South Africa, or the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, among others.”

International solidarity

Amid the details of attending talks, conferences, and meetings, Shikiya appreciates at a deep level what it means to be part of a global effort toward peace.

"International solidarity in the ecumenical and interreligious field is expressed in a loving and compassionate way in the face of human pain and the groaning of creation,” said Shikiya. "Love and compassion are the factors that promote solidarity in the face of suffering and that materialize in cooperative actions in the face of needs and rights that must be accessed.”

He believes that, from this understanding, international cooperation must seek justice, peace, and the common good in a transformative and sustainable way from attitudes of solidarity and relationships of equity. The relevance and importance of international solidarity is also based on a fair sharing of resources and capabilities,” he said. 

During the week in Helsinki, the World Council of Churches, together with DIPaz, also held meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, about a Joint Consortium Project, Accompaniment and support for an inclusive peace process in Colombia” that began on 1 June 1. 

This consortium project means a true collective challenge between four parties: DIPaz, WCC, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Embassy of Finland in Colombia. 

A creative and innovative way to promote just and sustainable peace in a multi-stakeholder manner, its a true witness of international solidarity and ecumenical sharing for peace in the Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity,” said Shikiya.

WCC executive committee brought historic steps on pilgrimage in Colombia (WCC news release, 14 June 20424)

Historic plenary at WCC executive committee offers candid look at Colombian peace process (WCC news release, 10 June 2024)