Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia
Several Delegates Emphasize Importance of Realizing Peace Agreement’s Full Promise
Five years after its signing, the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace in Colombia is setting down ever deeper roots, the Special Representative for the country told the Security Council today, as he called on the Government, political parties, former combatants and Colombians across the diverse nation to intensify implementation of the landmark accord ahead of congressional elections.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, who is also the Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, said elections, slated for March, will include for the first time representatives from 16 “special transitional electoral districts for peace”, which were established in 2021 and stipulated in the 2016 Agreement to promote participation of historically excluded populations in conflict-affected areas.
He said more than 400 candidates are running to make the voices of regions historically affected by poverty and conflict heard. All of them are recognized as victims of Colombia’s five-decade long conflict, half of them are women and many are indigenous and Afro-Colombians. “This is an historic opportunity, envisioned in the Agreement, that must be protected in order to widen Colombia’s democracy,” he observed.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2022/1090), he highlighted gains made in the reintegration of 13,000 ex-combatants. While he acknowledged a reduction in the number of killings compared to 2021, he stressed that every effort must be made to enhance their individual security, noting that the actions of illegal armed groups and criminal groups are being felt, particularly in regions given priority for implementation of the Final Agreement. “In today’s Colombia, there can be no justification for violence,” he said.
On that point, Luz Marina Giraldo, former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) combatant, signatory to the Final Agreement and leader in reintegration initiatives, described a general rejection of former combatants, as well as their children, by Colombian society. Stigmatization, polarization and discrimination have prevented the fulfilment of those goals enshrined in the Agreement.
Underlining the repeated use of the words “family” and “security” in that document, she said its territorial focus should allow former combatants, war widows and orphaned children to live safely throughout the country and protect them from discrimination. “Today, I ask this Council, from the bottom of our souls, not to leave us alone,” she said.
In the ensuing debate, delegates praised Colombia for the immense efforts it has made to overcome long-standing wounds and chart a path towards a unified and prosperous future. In that context, Brazil’s delegate said the decision to involve the United Nations in monitoring implementation of the peace accord is a testament to its commitment. Brazil will follow its efforts to guarantee the safety of ex-combatants, strengthen its policies regarding women, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants and ensure the functioning of its transitional justice system.
Several representatives underscored the need to realize the Agreement’s full promise, with Mexico’s delegate stressing that “progress is needed on all points”, notably on security guarantees. India’s delegate similarly said some provisions face impediments. Disputes between illegal armed groups over territorial control, along with activities of illegal trafficking groups remain a concern. “This needs to cease completely,” he said, a point echoed by Ghana’s delegate who pressed dissident groups and illegal armed elements to join the peace process without preconditions.
Picking up that thread, the representative of the United States said his country has designated Segunda Marquetalia and FARC-EP — comprised heavily of People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) dissidents who have rejected or abandoned the peace process — as terrorist organizations. He also noted that gender provisions are being implemented and financed at a lower rate than other parts of the Agreement, while implementation of rural economic plans and rural security has been slow.
Rounding out the discussion, Emilio José Archila, Presidential Adviser for Stabilization and Consolidation of Colombia, pointed to Ms. Giraldo’s success as representative of the reintegration process. Noting that she was in prison when it began and has since left, he said all those involved in the process are supported by lawyers financed by the Government.
Moreover, he said 70 per cent of the 13,000 former combatants now have economic sustainability. Seventy-seven per cent are in job training programmes and 88 per cent are in the health and pension systems. “There is no other area of Colombia that has those levels of social coverage,” he assured.
Going forward, he said Colombia will continue to comply with what was agreed through its “peace with legality” policy, highlighting President Iván Duque Márquez’s belief in the unique opportunity to resolve difficulties that should have been confronted decades ago. Implementation is planned over 15 years, meaning that the next three Administrations are bound to follow this path. “Colombia placed a bet on peace,” he declared. It is showing the world that conflict can be resolved through political determination, strict planning and a focus on results.
Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Gabon, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, Albania, Kenya, China and Norway.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 12:07 p.m.