8511th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Colombia

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12-Apr-2019 02:06:31
Secretary-General’s Special Representative warns against reopening Colombia’s final peace agreement in climate of uncertainty at 8511th meeting.

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The greatest uncertainty in a climate of uncertainty would be to reopen the Final Peace Agreement that ended five decades of conflict between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country warned while briefing the Security Council today.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, who is also Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, spotlighted growing divisions and polarization related to a draft statutory law for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace — a fundamental pillar of the peace process — after President Iván Duque Márquez objected to six of its articles. “The statutory law is the last missing element of the legal framework for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and a necessary one to ensure that this institution can operate with the necessary independence and autonomy,” he said, as he presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission.

While reiterating the Secretary-General’s call for prompt action by all concerned to ensure that the statutory law is put in place as soon as possible, he said it is encouraging that Colombians at the local level are engaging with each other across ideological lines to embrace the opportunities that the peace process provides. However, he also pointed to serious challenges involving deadly violence against human rights defenders and social leaders, as well as obstacles to the reintegration of former FARC-EP combatants.

Also briefing Council members, Rosa Emilia Salamanca, Executive Director of the Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica (CIASE) and a civil society representative, told Council members that the present is a time of both hope and difficulty in implementing the peace agreement. Of key importance are reintegrating former combatants into communities, ensuring that the justice system delivers, and implementing a comprehensive mechanism to protect the human rights of all. It is also vital to invest in women, and to integrate a gender perspective into the peace process, she said.

In the ensuing discussion, several Council members reiterated their support for the peace process as a model for resolving other conflict situations around the world. At the same time, however, they expressed concern over acts of violence, the slow pace at which former combatants are being reintegrated, and the uncertainty over the statutory law for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace as Congress considers the President’s objections. Some members also acknowledged Colombia’s efforts to accommodate refugees and migrants from neighbouring Venezuela.

Peru’s representative emphasized the need to ensure timely implementation of the peace agreement, emphasizing the importance of addressing the security concerns of ex-combatants. On the substitution of illicit crops, he said Peru’s own experience proves the effectiveness of that approach. Reaffirming the spirit of the peace agreement, he said the Special Jurisdiction for Peace warrants a statutory law, in accordance with Colombia’s international institutional processes.

The Dominican Republic’s representative noted that Colombia put more than 50 years of conflict behind it with the signing of the peace agreement, holding elections and establishing a transitional justice institution. However, many challenges remain, with less than 20 per cent of ex-fighters reintegrated. It is also vital to implement the Final Peace Agreement’s gender-related provisions, he said, adding that financial and technical resources must be mobilized to reintegrate female former combatants.

Emphasizing that implementation of the peace accord is at a critical juncture, the representative of the United States expressed support for the expansion of the Government’s security presence in remote areas to fend off armed groups. He went on to describe the partnership between the United States and Colombia as the strongest ever, noting that it entails efforts to dismantle criminal organizations, among other things.

The Russian Federation’s representative agreed that the peace process is at a critical stage, stressing that, after two-and-a-half years of progress, this is not a time for rollbacks. Alternative crop programmes are falling behind and direct dialogue with armed groups has yet to take place, he said, emphasizing the key importance of reintegrating former combatants, while noting that ex-combatants are taking up arms again. He went on to underline that developments around Venezuela should not become a hindrance to implementation of the peace process.

Colombia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs reiterated President Duque’s commitment to implementing the Final Peace Agreement through concrete measures, several of which are recognized in the Secretary-General’s report. However, whereas the report states that the peace process is at a critical juncture, the Government of Colombia believes it provides a moment of opportunity, he said, adding that while some of the most difficult challenges remain ahead, the Government is optimistic due to the strength of its determination to hold dialogue with others and to build consensus.

On the reintegration of FARC-EP members, he acknowledged the Secretary-General’s concern about the need for progress, pledging that the Government will step up efforts to offer demobilized fighters the means to make a living, to contribute to community development and “to stay on the right side of the law”. Noting that several thousand former FARC-EP members and their relatives have been settled in areas conceived as focal points for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he said the legal status of those areas will expire at the end of August, but that should not lead to uncertainty. The areas were created as a temporary measure, but the Government’s commitment is not temporary, he emphasized, pointing out that the President has stated as much during his visits.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Belgium, Poland, France, China, Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Kuwait and Germany.

The meeting began at 10:46 a.m. and ended at 12:53 p.m.

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