DURKAN IN COLOMBIA PEACE VISIT
Foyle SDLP MP Mark Durkan joined MPs and trade union leaders on a visit to Colombia this week to share his experiences of conflict resolution in Northern Ireland and to provide his support for the peace process there.
The visit is part of the trade union movement’s Justice for Colombia (JFC) campaign for human rights, trade union rights and for peace with social justice in the country.
The 50-year-old conflict in Colombia – the longest-running in Latin America – has killed an estimated 220,000 people since it began in the 1960s.
Formal talks between the Colombian government and left-wing rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) aim to end it.
However, despite several agreements already reached on a peace agenda, huge obstacles still remain.
Mr Durkan, a former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, was widely acknowledged as the chief draughtsman of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
He said: “I am delighted to share any insights or experiences I have had that could in any way help efforts to achieve peace in Colombia.
“JFC are working closely with ‘Colombians for Peace’, an organisation of high-profile figures who have been working to bring all sides to the conflict to the table and to advance a peace process there.
“In particular, Colombians for Peace believe that an engagement with politicians from the North could help enormously – and that that sharing of experiences could prove invaluable.”