The process of the peace talks is coordinated by the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace. The WCC will provide accompaniment and, where necessary, leadership and moderation for the negotiators from both sides on behalf of the international ecumenical movement.
WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay said: “The WCC is involved in many peace initiatives across the globe and we are pleased to be of service to make the world a better and safe place for all people and creation. This is very much in keeping with our Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity.”
Pillay added: “I am particularly pleased that the WCC has played a very significant role in peace initiatives in Colombia over many years. We are glad to continue to play such a role and are grateful that the WCC is considered to be an important contributor to this process in Colombia. We pray, long for, and work for peace in this context and in the rest of the world.”
At the regional level, WCC is represented by Dr h.c. Humberto Shikiya, WCC’s special envoy to the Colombia peace process.
“For the WCC, getting involved in this roundtable implies honoring commitments assumed in its Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace back in 2018, promoting a just and sustainable peace where abundant and full life is a reality for the people of Colombia,” said Shikiya, who moderated one of the sessions of dialogue in the region of Cauca on 18 September, in which both sides announced that a bilateral ceasefire of 10 months will begin on 8 October, after a truce was suspended in May.
“At this initial stage of this new phase of engagement, the challenge is also to explore how the WCC, together with its ecumenical partner Dialogo Interclesial por la Paz (DiPaz), its member church the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, and other churches and ecumenical partners articulate their actions effectively,” he added.
In early September 2023, the Colombian government made public that armed dissidents from EMC FARC-EP had agreed to renew a ceasefire and peace talks. A joint statement released by both sides said that the agreement aimed “to reduce confrontation and violence." The statement said that the truce would apply throughout the country, and it aims to include "civil society in the peace process."
In 2016, EMC FARC-EP had rejected peace talks with the government, choosing to break away from the main operation of the FARC-EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército Popular).
WCC’s long-term commitment
Over many years, the WCC has joined the people and churches of Colombia in their efforts for peace founded on justice, promoting and supporting dialogue as the only path to sustainable peace, and calling for full and effective implementation of the peace agreements between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP.
With a visit to Colombia in August 2023, a WCC delegation expressed solidarity with the Colombian government, churches, and people as they collaborate in the design, implementation, and advocacy for the construction of peace in the country. The delegation met state officials, ecumenical partners, and the Latin American Conference of Bishops; and attended the International Conference for Reconciliation in Colombia, an event organized by DiPaz.
Peace and Reconciliation is identified as one of the 2023-2028 strategic priorities of the WCC with Colombia as one of the priority countries.