ELN Peace Talks Timeline

The Ejército Nacional de Liberación (National Liberation Army – ELN) is the largest remaining guerrilla group in Colombia, following the signing of the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia (FARC-EP).

It is estimated that the ELN currently has some 5,800 members, with 3,000 combatants and is comprised of 8 main bloques and 33 subestrucutras. The EMC mainly operates in Arauca and Norte de Santander, in the north-east of the country, but activity is seen right across to Chocó and Cauca in the west/south-west.[1]


2016-2022

Previous peace talks

Multiple rounds of peace talks with the ELN have failed since the 2016 Peace Accord.

Talks resume in 2022 after an almost four year suspension that was ordered by ex-President Ivan Duque, due to a car bomb attack carried out by the ELN that killed 21 people.

October 2022

ELN enters in to peace talks with the government

In a major step forward, the ELN and the Colombian Government enter into Peace Talks in Venezuela as part of new President Petro’s “Total Peace” policy.

19 December 2022

ELN announces unilateral ceasefire

The ELN announces its own unilateral ceasefire over the Christmas period, from 24 December – 2 January.

31 December 2022

Six-month ceasefire with major armed groups announced

At the end of 2022, President Petro announces that the government had agreed to bilateral ceasefires with the five main armed groups in Colombia, including the ELN.

3 January 2024

ELN denies ceasefire agreement

After Petro’s announcement, the ELN denies having made such an agreement with the government. The unilateral ceasefire comes to an end.

4 January 2023

Government suspends ceasefire

The government also announces that it has suspended the ceasefire with the ELN, due to their rejection of the truce.

February – May 2023

Peace talks resume

The ELN and the government meet in Mexico and Cuba to resume the second and third rounds of peace talks.

9 June – 5 July 2023

Planning for ceasefire begins

The ceasefire is implemented in three phases to allow the establishment of protocols, community dialogues, education about what a bilateral ceasefire means in practice, and explanation of how the monitoring and verification mechanisms will work.

The UN’s mission in Colombia and the Catholic Church monitor the compliance of the process with international humanitarian law.

4 July 2023

ELN plans to halt all attacks

The ELN announces that as of 6 July 2023 it will halt all attacks against state forces, ahead of the full implementation of the bilateral ceasefire in August.

6 July 2023

Lead up to ceasefire begins

The initial stage of the ceasefire is put into practice – with the promise that no attacks will be initiated by the ELN or the Colombian Security Forces.

3 August 2023

The Bilateral, National, Temporary Ceasefire is announced

The six-month truce between the authorities and the ELN follows 10 months of negotiations. This ceasefire marks the next step in an ongoing peace process.

The ceasefire will be monitored and verified by the UN Mission of Verification (MMV), the Catholic Church (la Conferencia Episcopal), Government and ELN representatives. The MMV and the Conferencia Episcopal will coordinate with social organisations that are part of the Veeduria Social (Social Monitoring mechanism).

November 2023

ELN responsible for kidnapping of Manuel Díaz

Despite the ongoing ceasefire, the ELN continues its illicit activity and kidnaps Manuel Díaz, father of Liverpool FC player Luis Díaz. This garners lots of international attention.

17 December 2023

ELN suspends kidnappings

Peace Talks resume in Mexico with the ELN, and it is agreed that they stop kidnappings. However, they demand that the government fills the gap in financing that would result from this action.

22 January 2023

Peace talks continue

The sixth round of peace talks begins in Cuba, one week prior to the expiration of the current bilateral ceasefire.

29 January 2024

Bilateral ceasefire extended by 1 week

Petro’s government and the ELN agree to extend the ceasefire for seven days while they negotiate a longer extension.

6 February 2024

Bilateral ceasefire extended by 6 months

The ceasefire is extended for another six months, now due to expire in August 2023. The government and the ELN also announced the creation of a fund backed by multiple donors to finance the process.

10 February 2024

ELN orders an armed strike

The ELN announces an “armed strike” in southern Choco following alleged paramilitary attacks against the population, and the presence of state and paramilitary forces along rivers in the area.

21 February 2024

ELN threatens to freeze peace talks

Despite the extension on the bilateral ceasefire, the ELN threatens to suspend peace talks after claiming the government is breaking its promises. The government also claims that the ELN is not respecting the ceasefire.

26 February 2024

Government and ELN meet

Despite ongoing difficulties, the ELN and the government hold a meeting and agree that peace talks will resume in Venezuela in April 2024.

1 March 2024

ELN release all hostages

The ELN say that they have freed all hostages under a deal made with the government to end kidnapping for ransom. It is believed that the group was holding around 26 people hostage.

The government is also engaged in Peace Talks with the EMC and the Segunda Marquetalia.

[1] https://indepaz.org.co/el-accionar-de-los-grupos-armados-en-el-contexto-de-la-paz-total/ (pages 17 & 24).