FARC commander Pastor Alape addresses  journalists at the 36th round of peace talks with the Colombian government. Havana, Cuba, April 15, 2015. (Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA/Corbis)

FARC commander Pastor Alape addresses journalists at the 36th round of peace talks with the Colombian government. Havana, Cuba, April 15, 2015. (Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA/Corbis)

Public support is one of the key elements of any successful peace agreement. Ongoing negotiations to reach a deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are no exception. But how can public support be built when it is not automatically forthcoming? A look at other peace process around the globe provides some insights.

The issue of insufficient public support for the Colombian process was highlighted in a recent Global Observatory article. Virginia M. Bouvier noted a significant decrease in the public’s hopes of a positive result from talks in Havana, and a corresponding increase in support for a military response to the FARC.

This has significant implications. Even if the main armed parties to conflicts are able to conclude agreements without public support, ratification and implementation seldom works. There are numerous examples of this from around the world. In Cyprus, the United Nations-mediated peace plan in 1994 failed after it was narrowly defeated at a referendum. The Swiss-mediated deal between Turkey and Armenia in 2009 also failed to be ratified by the two parliaments and could, therefore, not be implemented. Once again, a lack of public support in both countries, due to deep historical mistrust, was largely responsible for the difficulties encountered. Read more