Colombia - Security Council VTC Briefing

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21-Apr-2021 01:35:21
‘Stay the course’, build on progress already made, Special Representative urges parties to Colombia peace accord, in briefing to Security Council.

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The United Nations envoy overseeing the implementation of Colombia’s 2016 peace agreement urged its signatories today to stay the course and build upon the progress they have made, even as continuing violence against former rebel fighters and community leaders threatens to derail the historic accord that ended Latin America’s longest-running civil war.

Briefing a videoconference meeting of the Security Council, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission (document S/2021/298). He said that a meeting on 10 March between President Iván Duque and Rodrigo Londoño, leader of the Comunes party, was undoubtedly encouraging and provided a solid basis for the two sides to keep working together despite their different visions.

[Comunes, formerly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), adopted its new name in January.]

The Special Representative went on to emphasize that, five years since the adoption of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace, the parties must remain committed to building on the achievements made, resolve pending challenges and move forward to resolving structural problems, with the participation of all actors in Colombian society.

Noting that protecting life is the primary purpose of any peace process, he reported that since publication of the Secretary-General’s report on 26 March, violence against social leaders and communities has continued, bringing to 266 the number of people killed since the peace agreement was signed. Steps taken by the State to counter the problem, including its recently adopted Strategic Security Plan, must generate better results, he stressed. Hopefully, by the end of 2021, the Verification Mission will be able to report a reversal of the trend of attacks on former FARC-EP combatants and social leaders, accompanied by a growing deployment of Government services to guarantee effective control of territory, protection of communities and consolidation of the rule of law and development opportunities.

Progress towards the reincorporation of former FARC-EP members into Colombia’s social, political and economic life has been remarkable, he said, adding that the Government’s acquisition of land for former Territorial Training and Reincorporation Sites is encouraging. He drew attention to the recent donation of land in western Colombia — by a businessman whose father had been kidnapped by an illegal armed group — saying it is enabling about 50 ex-combatants to launch projects and build homes. That is an example of the opportunities for reconciliation generated by the peace agreement, he said, adding that the National Reintegration Council recently approved two additional collective projects, bringing the total to 90.

Government efforts to respond to the needs of communities in conflict zones still need to be complemented with other aspects of the peace agreement, including rural reform, he continued. Firm steps must also be taken to give rural families more productive opportunities under the National Comprehensive Programme for Substitution of Illicit Crops and to strengthen confidence in the State. He stressed that the parties must also strengthen the participation of women’s organizations in peacebuilding.

He went on to say that the Government, local authorities and the public have made significant efforts to overcome COVID-19 and restore normality, adding that the work of the three components of the transitional justice system created by the peace agreement — the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, the Truth Commission and the Unit for the Search of Persons Deemed as Missing — is encouraging.

In the ensuing debate, Council members welcomed the meeting between President Duque and Mr. Londoño while also expressing deep concern at the ongoing violence. They voiced support for the proposed expansion of the Verification Mission’s mandate to include the monitoring of sentences handed down by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. The 15-member Council expressed its readiness to consider that possibility when it extended the Verification Mission’s mandate until 25 September 2021, adopting resolution S/2020/2545.

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