8368th Security Council Meeting: Colombia

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10-Oct-2018 01:34:16
Continuing commitment critical to overcoming challenges in Colombia peace process, head of United Nations Verification Mission tells Security Council at 8368th meeting.

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Continuing commitment by the new Government of Colombia to the peace process that ended the long civil war there is critical to overcoming the formidable challenges still remaining, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the South American country told the Security Council today.

Jean Arnault, who is also the Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, reported that the Government continues to advance political participation by former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) and to put in place provisions of the peace agreement, in cooperation with the Mission. However, the socioeconomic reintegration of former rebel fighters remains a complex challenge and the killing of civic leaders and activists continues.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on Colombia (document S/2018/874), he said it expresses hope that the national authorities will continue to pursue the core of the peace agenda: security, development and the rule of law in areas affected by conflict; an effective system of justice for victims; and the fulfilment of commitments to those who laid down their arms.

Since the report was released, he continued, key mechanisms for the reintegration and security of former FARC-EP members have resumed their work for the first time since the new Government was formed. Among other positive signs, he cited the participation of FARC representatives in Congress and President Iván Duqué’s efforts to build political consensus on policy issues. However, former guerrillas outside areas protected by the Government are vulnerable to violence, he noted, underlining the importance of success for security teams deployed around the country.

He went on to cite other concerns over the future of former FARC-EP combatants, including their economic integration and the legal uncertainty arising from controversies over the peace accord and the administration of transitional justice. He called for domestic and international support for mechanisms intended to help overcome both challenges.

Regarding the threats that still face civic leaders, he pointed to the tragic killing of the coordinator of a coca crop-substitution committee over the weekend, emphasizing that he fully shares the urgent need expressed by national leaders to stop such killings, and is awaiting implementation of an action plan to end such violence.

Following the briefing, Council members welcomed the progress he described, with many reiterating their hope that Colombia’s emergence from conflict will provide a model for effective Security Council support. Many speakers also praised the cooperation between the new Administration and the Verification Mission, encouraging the Government to continue implementing all provisions of the peace agreement, and the international community to continue providing support.

Council members cited priority challenges, including action on security, development, the rule of law and justice, and reparations for victims, while most also called for effective action to end the killing of civic leaders. Several speakers also prioritized eradicating illegal crops through law enforcement and crop substitution.

Members also voiced concern over the departure of several former FARC members from training and reintegration zones, emphasizing the urgent need to ensure the resumption of economic activities in affected areas on a larger scale and to strengthen security for former combatants. The need to step up efforts for the inclusion of the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) in the peace process.

Also taking the floor, Colombia’s Foreign Minister thanked the Council for providing support recently by extending the mandate of the Verification Force. He described the end of the conflict as an opportunity to pursue peace and development for all Colombians, and assured the Council that the Government is doing its utmost to overcome challenges in implementing the peace process. Expressing concern that ex-FARC cadres have left the peace process, he called on them to avoid a return to violence and illegality, while underlining the importance of close coordination by all stakeholders in the reintegration effort. He added that the Government is determined to combat illegal crops through security and development programmes.

Statements were also made by the representatives of the United Kingdom, Peru, France, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Poland, United States, Netherlands, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Russian Federation and Bolivia.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 11:36 a.m.
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