8450th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Colombia

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23-Jan-2019 02:10:53
Swift action needed against lingering violence, terrorism in Colombia to bolster support for peace accord, incoming Special Representative tells Security Council at 8450th meeting.

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The broad public consensus in Colombia in support of the country’s 2016 peace agreement — which ended more than 50 years of bloody civil strife — must be preserved and bolstered, with swift action to address lingering violence and terrorist acts, the Secretary-General’s newly appointed Special Representative told the Security Council today.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, who is also head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, briefed the 15-member organ for the first time in his capacity as Special Representative. Describing recent developments including a 17 January car bomb that killed 21 people at a police academy in Bogotá, he stressed that the incident was swiftly rejected by stakeholders across the political spectrum and that Colombians took to the streets to march against it. The country’s ever-broader consensus to reject violence must continue to be nurtured, he said.

Outlining the Verification Mission’s work to those ends, he described meetings with President Iván Duque Márquez, Foreign Minister Carlos Trujillo, leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other stakeholders committed to the country’s peace process. Among recent progress, the High-level Forum on Gender — responsible for the implementation of the peace agreement’s gender provisions — met for the first time on 16 January; the Special Jurisdiction for Peace completed its first year of work; and the Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition Commission embarked on its three-year mandate.

Turning to the economic reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (FARC‑EP) members, he welcomed the approval of additional productive projects by the National Reintegration Council, as well as advances in disbursements for those projects. Meanwhile, he said, President Duque expressed his commitment to addressing the spate of deadly attacks against social leaders and human rights defenders. “The security of communities, leaders and FARC members are ultimately tied to the ability of the State to establish an integrated security and civilian presence in conflict-affected areas,” he stressed, welcoming the Government’s new “Peace with Legality” plan.

Council members taking the floor following that briefing expressed solidarity with the Government and people of Colombia as they confront violence and terrorism, and strongly rejected the recent car bombing. Many stressed that, despite such challenges, Colombia remains a success story on which other nations around the world can model their exits from civil war. Several delegates, hailing the early work of the various bodies mandated by Colombia’s peace agreement, emphasized the need to ensure that they stay independent from the Government and retain their full credibility.

Miguel Vargas Maldonado, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic and Council President for January, said in his national capacity that irrefutable, tangible progress has been made in Colombia over the past two years. The second anniversary of the 2016 peace agreement provides a space to reflect on what has been achieved and the path ahead to lasting peace, he said, emphasizing that the deep-seated conflict will require long-term solutions. The convening of local and regional elections in October, in which FARC will participate, is an important step, he stressed, adding that peacebuilding must be upheld by social and economic development.

The representative of Germany was among those delegates who spotlighted the threat posed by the National Liberation Army (ELN) group — which claimed responsibility for the 17 January bombing — saying that it should promptly release all those it has kidnapped and detained. Urging the parties to leave the doors open to a political solution through negotiation, he echoed concerns raised by other speakers about Colombia’s challenging security situation. In addition, he said a growing sense of legal uncertainty among former combatants could prove detrimental to the consolidation of the peace process.

France’s delegate declared: “Unity must prevail now more than ever, including within this Security Council.” All parties in Colombia must stay focused on the hope emanating from the peace agreement and on reintegrating former combatants, he said, emphasizing that the murders of human rights defenders are part of a strategy of terror “that must be fought as such” before it erodes public trust. More broadly, there is a need to step up efforts to ensure security ahead of regional and local elections planned for October, he said, underlining the economic reintegration of former combatants as a crucial pillar of the peace process.

The Russian Federation’s representative agreed that the murder of civilians — including former combatants — constitutes an alarming trend that must be overturned. Describing the situation in Colombia as a window into how international support can and should be provided, he pointed out that the country itself requested United Nations assistance and is working closely with the Verification Mission.

Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, told Council members that new legislation is being considered to overhaul the way drug trafficking, kidnapping and gender-based crimes are addressed in his country. Outlining work planned for the coming months, he said the Government will initially carry out development projects in 170 towns, building on the Peace with Legality plan. Nearly 50 projects for the economic reintegration of former FARC members have been approved. “This Government attaches the greatest importance to security guarantees for former FARC members,” he said, also spotlighting efforts to accelerate illicit crop substitution programmes and ensure security for elections in October as top priorities.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia also participated in the meeting.

Also speaking were the representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, Peru, Kuwait, China, Belgium, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Poland and Cuba.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 12:17 p.m.

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