The central committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), meeting in Trondheim, welcomes the news of the historic bilateral ceasefire agreement concluded by the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) in Havana on 23 June 2016. As one of the last steps before a full peace agreement is achieved, the conclusion of the Bilateral Ceasefire and Final Cessation of Hostilities agreement is a major landmark on the path to peace in Colombia and the region, after more than a half century of conflict in which an estimated 220,000 people lost their lives and almost 7 million were displaced. In offering the prospect of an end to the longest-running insurgency in the western hemisphere, it is a sign of hope to the whole world.

The WCC joins the people and churches of Colombia in celebrating this agreement between the government and the largest of the armed opposition groups in Colombia, and in calling for its full and effective implementation. Together with them, we pray and hope that it will create an environment in which the longstanding injustices and unresolved grievances which have fed this conflict can be addressed peacefully and sustainably, and that it will bring to an end the massacres, attacks and threats against human rights defenders and social justice activists, kidnappings, disappearances, torture and other human rights violations that have so marked the country’s history. May God lead the people to repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

The WCC central committee calls on the Colombian government to fully engage churches and civil society representatives, including women peacemakers, in the processes of disarmament monitoring, peace-building and reconciliation, and in the construction of a just peace in the country. The worldwide ecumenical movement will continue to accompany the people and churches of Colombia in this process.

In light of the meeting of the general secretary and the Latin American president of the WCC with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on 7 September 2015, the central committee of the WCC commits itself to exploring ways – together with ACT Alliance and other ecumenical partners – to help promote and support the effective participation of churches, faith-based organizations and civil society in the remaining phases of the talks between the government and the FARC-EP and the opening of talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), and to accompany the post-agreement process of approval, implementation and verification of compliance.

In the context of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, the central committee invites consideration of a post-agreement ecumenical delegation visit to Colombia, and of holding a forthcoming meeting of the WCC central committee or executive committee in Colombia to demonstrate that accompaniment.

We call for renewed commitment by WCC member churches and ecumenical partners around the world to accompanying and supporting the churches and society of Colombia on this journey and in their efforts to contribute to building peace in their country.