8702nd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Colombia

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13-Jan-2020 01:51:37
Amid resumed violence, Colombia Government, opposition must preserve hard-won gains in peace process, Special Representative tells Security Council.

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Foreign Affairs Minister Highlights Policy to Reintegrate Ex-Combatants, Guarantee Security for Most Affected Communities

Hard-won gains in Colombia must be preserved and built upon, the Special Representative told the Security Council today, urging the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to fully implement their historic 2016 peace accord, amid resumed violence by illicit armed groups in the traditional epicentres of Cauca, Chocó and Nariño.

“I encourage both parties to deepen their dialogue regarding any differences on the implementation of the Final Agreement,” said Carlos Ruiz Massieu, briefing the Council on the Secretary-General’s report on developments from 27 September to 26 December 2019 on the matter.

To be sure, Colombia has made significant strides in its peace process, he said: enhanced participation and improved security in the October regional elections demonstrated the positive impact of the peace process on democracy. Social mobilization under way since November has opened a path for dialogue, while the 27 December adoption of the reintegration road map created opportunities for former combatants.

At the same time, he drew attention to the 23 December killing of artist and social leader Lucy Villarreal in Nariño department, and killings of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC-EP) combatants, notably Benjamin Banguera Rosales in Cauca department, stressing that the perpetrators must be brought swiftly to justice. “Peace will not be fully achieved if the brave voices of social leaders continue to be silenced through violence and if former combatants who laid down their weapons and are committed to their reintegration continue to be killed,” he insisted.

The underlying conditions for such violence are consistent, he said: rural areas affected by a limited State presence and persistent poverty, and where criminal structures seek to control illicit economies. Each condition is addressed by the Peace Agreement and he underscored the urgency of establishing a public policy to dismantle illegal armed groups, criminal structures and their support network through the National Commission on Security Guarantees.

In the ensuing debate, Council members agreed that peace is still fragile, with the representative of the Dominican Republic calling the 2016 agreement a “critical tool” to be upheld by all stakeholders. Germany’s delegate encouraged the National Commission on Security Guarantees to work to dismantle criminal groups and their support networks responsible for the killing of social leaders.

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was among those voicing concern about the pace of progress in accrediting former combatants and difficulties in ensuring the security guarantees for some communities. Permanent solutions for the 70 per cent of former FARC-EP combatants residing outside Territorial Areas for Training and Integration are essential for the Agreement’s full implementation, she said.

The Russian Federation’s delegate meanwhile cited gaps in political reintegration, with one Parliamentary seat — which under the accord was supposed to go to FARC — still blocked. On the legal front, independence of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace must be preserved. Without strict compliance with Final Agreement obligations, 50 years of violence will not be overcome, he cautioned.

To many of those concerns, Colombia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said the Government’s “Peace with Legality” policy aims to achieve the constitutional right to peace for all Colombians within a rule of law framework. This policy is in line with the 2016 agreement and contains instruments for both reintegrating former combatants and providing security guarantees for communities most affected by violence.

In that context, she cited the participation of FARC for the first time in October regional elections — and further, the election of former combatants or candidates supported by them. Job access now allows former combatants to generate their own incomes, while the Government more broadly is working to tackle threats affecting former combatants, social leaders, ethnic groups, rights defenders and other vulnerable communities. While Colombia’s commitment to peace with legality is unwavering, it nonetheless requires support by the Council and the international community, she emphasized.

The Council began its meeting by holding a moment of silence in tribute to the tenth anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and to the victims of the 9 January terrorist attack in Niger.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, Belgium, France, Tunisia, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Estonia, Niger and Viet Nam.

The meeting began at 10:23 a.m. and ended at 12:13 p.m.

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