Swiss to watch over future Colombia peace deal

Humberto de la Calle, right, head of Colombia's government peace negotiation team, shakes hands with Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana, Cuba on May 15, 2016 Keystone

The Swiss foreign ministry has welcomed plans for Switzerland to be entrusted any future Colombian peace deal, which will be stored in the alpine country after it is signed by the Bogota government and the leftist FARC rebel group.

This content was published on May 19, 2016 - 16:42 with agencies

In a statement released on Thursday, the ministry said it supports the ongoing negotiations between the two sides and welcomes their recent declaration on the peace agreement.

On May 12, Colombia's government and FARC rebels agreed on a series of legal mechanisms to ensure any peace deal agreed at negotiations will be constitutionally binding if approved by Colombians in a proposed referendum.

The two sides have been in peace talks in Havana, Cuba, since late 2012 to end Latin America's longest war that has displaced millions and killed hundreds of thousands.

A deadline for a final accord was missed in March, but Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday his government hoped to conclude a peace deal with the FARC rebels "in the very near future".

Depositary state

Under the May 12 deal, both parties want the signed agreement to be entrusted to the Swiss government and stored for safekeeping in the alpine country, which is also depositary for the Geneva Conventions. Their aim is to secure the deal’s compliance with international humanitarian law.

Switzerland is the depositary state for 79 international treaties.

“Since 2001 Switzerland has been working for a comprehensive peace deal and supporting the ongoing process in various areas,” the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

In March, Switzerland's role in addressing the “challenges linked to the peace process” between Colombia and the FARC was raised during a meeting between Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter and his Colombian counterpart María Angela Holguín Cuéllar.

Switzerland has three cooperation programmes in Colombia: peace and human rights, humanitarian aid and economic cooperation.

It provides technical expertise for the peace negotiations. It also promotes dialogue with local civil society organizations, accompanies reconciliation processes and supports programmes that help tackle structural problems in Colombia.

The conflict, which has also involved other illegal armed groups, has left more than seven million victims, 260,000 of whom were killed. 

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