The Current

Inside 4 years of secret negotiations to reach Colombia's peace agreement

Dag Nylander used every diplomatic trick he knew to edge the Colombian government and its decades-old adversary FARC toward a peace deal. Eventually, the cool, diplomatic guidance of this Norwegian succeeded in disrupting a five-decade-long conflict.
Colombia's FARC lead negotiator Ivan Marquez signs the protocol and timetable for the disarmament of the FARC near mediator Dag Nylander of Norway (R) in Havana, Cuba, Aug. 5, 2016. (Enrique de la Osa/Reuters)

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Dag Nylander knows how hard it is to disrupt violence.

As Norway's Special Envoy to the Peace Process in Colombia he has dedicated nearly five years of his life to negotiating a peace agreement between Colombia's Farc left-wing rebels and the Colombian government.

"What I really took away from that day in August when the peace agreement was reached in Havana was a sense that it was difficult to fathom, it was difficult to understand that we had really reached a peace agreement," Nylander tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"Personally it took a couple of days before it did sink in sufficiently for me to light up the cigars and open up the champagne bottles."

Dag Nylander (L), Norway's representative in the Colombia-FARC peace talks, Colombia's FARC lead negotiator Ivan Marquez (C), Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (R), react after the signing a final peace deal, Aug. 24, 2016. (Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters)

The five decade long conflict, rooted in Colombia's unique land distribution and political exclusion of large segments of the population, has killed at least 220,000 people and displaced millions.

One of the central parts of these peace talks was hearing from victims of the violence.

"These were mothers and fathers who had lost their children. These were people that were maimed by anti-personnel mines. These were people that had been subject of kidnappings," Nylander tells Tremonti.

"These were people that had been the subject of sexual violence, just listening to these victims explaining what they have been through was something that made a deep impression on all of us."

Without the support of the Colombian population the peace agreement won't work.- Norway's Special Envoy to the peace process in Columbia, Dag Nylander

As Colombia begins "transitional justice" the first priority is for the people responsible for the violence against the victims of this war to admit to their wrongdoing.

"Anyone who has committed an international crime, a grave crime, will have to tell the truth and to take responsibility to repair its victims. The perpetrators will still receive punishment, a sanction, a restriction of liberty, not necessarily jail, but some sort of restriction of liberty," say's Nylander.

"For the ones that are not telling the truth or taking responsibility for crimes committed, they will be subjected to up to 20 years of regular prison sentences."

The peace deal was signed by Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos on Sept. 19 and on Oct. 2, there will be a referendum on the deal.

"Without the support of the Colombian population the peace agreement won't work," say's Nylander.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino.