8154th Security Council Meeting: Report of the Secretary-General on Colombia

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SIX OFFICIAL 10-Jan-2018 01:44:09
Concerns aired over broken ceasefire, challenges to reintegrating ex-combatants, as Security Council tracks implementation of Colombia’s historic peace accord at 8154th meeting.
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Although the reintegration of former guerrilla combatants in Colombia was on track, the level of accumulated frustration with that process would not be easily overcome, the Security Council heard today, as representatives also expressed concern about the possible ramifications stemming from the broken ceasefire between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The Security Council was meeting to review progress since the signing of the historic peace agreement in November 2016 between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia‑People’s Army (FARC‑EP), which brought an end to more than 50 years of conflict in the Latin American country. The meeting was also taking place amid reports that ELN had broken the temporary national ceasefire it had signed with the Government on 4 September 2017.

Highlighting that 2017 marked the least violent year in Colombia since 1975, Óscar Adolfo Naranjo Trujillo, the country’s Vice‑President, said the peace agreement had saved the lives of more than 3,000 people in the last year.

On reintegration, Colombia had more than 14 years’ experience in that field, which made the country a global model, he said. Today, 12,848 former combatants were integrated in the process, of whom 11,362 were already receiving a basic monthly stipend. At the same time, the Government was undergoing a sweeping political transformation in which FARC‑EP was reborn as a new political party, the People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC), that would participate in the elections scheduled for March, as well as the forthcoming presidential elections.

He said that 2017 had also been a busy legislative year, with six legislative acts that had introduced many reforms. Further, the Victoria plan of the armed forces and the security and peace plans of the national police had been made more comprehensive to overcome violence in any part of the country.

Turning to the broken ceasefire with ELN, he questioned why the group had rejected the Government’s goodwill and failed to pay heed to the Catholic Church and non‑governmental organizations who had called for continuing talks. His Government stood ready to ensure that the ceasefire would continue, and regretted that ELN had not heeded calls to do the same.

Jean Arnault, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, introducing the Secretary‑General’s first 90‑day progress report on the work of the Mission (document S/2017/1117) since its mandate began on 29 September, expressed concern about the socioeconomic reintegration of the 14,000 former FARC‑EP combatants. “While the building blocks of stabilization are being put in place, we cannot lose sight of the challenges of reintegration,” he said, stressing that the next few months represented an opportunity to turn the corner and transform what was still a fragile process into a more durable solution.

The disposal of FARC‑EP arms caches had resumed under the responsibility of the military and with the cooperation of ex‑combatants, although the outcome of that effort was still modest, he said, stressing that it should continue in order to keep weapons out of the reach of illegal groups.

Security forces would be deployed in about 600 of the most vulnerable rural districts in the areas most affected by the conflict, including where community leaders, human rights defenders, promoters of coca substitution and land restitution advocates had been murdered. “It is difficult to overestimate the importance of that decision,” he said, adding that State control of the territory was inseparable from the permanent physical presence of State institutions in those areas.

He expressed regret over the announcement that the ceasefire had been broken following the resumption of attacks against pipelines by ELN. He hoped that upcoming talks in Quito would deliver an outcome consistent with calls by social organizations, and members of academia, the private sector and local authorities from different regions for maintaining the ceasefire.

The United Kingdom’s representative also lamented that with its recent actions ELN had broken the ceasefire and the chance for sustained peace. He urged both sides to work together to find a way to avoid more civilian suffering.

Notwithstanding the recent developments concerning ELN, neighbouring countries hailed the laying down of arms by ex‑combatants as a milestone in the peace process, including Peru’s representative, who said the reintegration of FARC combatants was vitally important and supported the comprehensive strategy to protect them based an approach that sought to reduce risk. He pointed to the actions by the Attorney General’s office and the importance of ensuring that Government measures to protect all citizens were upheld.

Bolivia’s representative called for reintegrating former combatants into everyday life, increasing security in zones formerly under FARC control, and for concrete reform measures. He noted that more than 100 new laws had been put in place dealing with challenges ranging from reintegration, security guarantees, reparations and other issues.

The representative of the United States called the lack of security and governance in areas formerly held by FARC a grave threat and applauded the Government’s efforts to occupy former conflict areas to keep paramilitary groups from replacing FARC. Political reconciliation and reintegration must balance the need for justice with unity to ensure a lasting peace, and there must be accountability for those who had committed crimes, she stressed.

That sentiment was echoed by the speaker for Sweden, who said that the increasing number of incidents of intimidation, reprisals and killings of human rights defenders, community leaders, FARC members and their families was worrisome, and underscored the need for the State to fill the power vacuum and safeguard the rule of law.

Poland’s representative stressed the importance of women’s participation in the peace process, as did the representative of the Netherlands, who said women should participate fully in the drafting and implementation of a solid national re‑integration plan necessary to make the political, economic and social reincorporation of former combatants into society a reality.

Also speaking today were representatives of the France, Côte d’Ivoire, the Russian Federation, Kuwait, China, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Kazakhstan.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 11:54 a.m.
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2073229
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2073611