“The participation process currently underway in Colombia is unprecedented”: Carlos Ruiz Massieu

18 May 2024

“The participation process currently underway in Colombia is unprecedented”: Carlos Ruiz Massieu

The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia spoke in Bogotá and Leticia on Thursday and Friday, highlighting that the first stage of the participation process is successfully concluding, despite challenges at the dialogue table with the ELN.

Bogotá, 18 May 2024. This week, in Bogotá and Leticia in the Colombian Amazon, two significant milestones took place in the social participation process in the peace talks between the government and the ELN: the fourth plenary session of the National Participation Committee and the Amazon regional meeting. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, who is serving as the permanent supporter of the peace process, participated in both events and celebrated the achievement of this significant milestone: moving closer to signing the agreement on the first point of the Mexico Agenda, the first agreement signed between the parties in over 30 years of dialogue.

The Special Representative believes that having society itself actively and directly involved in creating the changes necessary for peace “is unprecedented, not only in Colombia, but on a global scale.” In other processes, society is listened to, but it is not directly involved in peacebuilding. He also highlighted that participation, the Committee’s work and public consultations have been ongoing despite challenges at the table: “This participation process has been very relevant and will continue to be so, and it shows the desire of the regions, the communities and the parties to continue moving forward”, he added.

Similarly, on Thursday during the plenary session, Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao expressed that the participation process has never stopped, “indicating that Colombian society wants to participate and believes in a negotiated political solution to the conflict.”


Participation from different regions

The importance that this design phase has had was highlighted at the fourth plenary participation session. Workers, farmers, university students, indigenous peoples, young people, women, the LGTBIQ+ community, incarcerated individuals, faith-based communities, alternative media, academics and people with disabilities, as well as other sectors have participated in this plenary session. In total, including the one on Friday, 77 meetings have taken place, involving the participation of 8,465 people from 3,132 social organizations in 35 of the country’s municipalities.

“These meetings, which have taken place in the country’s most vulnerable regions, have served to listen to the people on how they would like to participate, and that is very important, as here social participation is being designed by society itself,” added Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao.


The first agreement in 30 years

This 25 May, the participation design phase will conclude with the signing of the first point of the agreement in Caracas, Venezuela. This includes a participation model, recommendations and the National Participation Plan. According to Senator Iván Cepeda, the government representative in the ELN peace talks, this will be a milestone. He stated, “in the coming year, until May 2025, in different regions and in many sectors of Colombian society, we will discuss what change is needed and how people can participate in this change to achieve peace. We are making steady progress towards the necessary transition to peace with this organization.”


Peace is possible

Claudia Rodríguez from the ELN’s social management team believes that completing this first design phase of social participation in peacebuilding is crucial. It allows for all participation experiences within communities to be recognized and moves the participation process itself forward: “We have managed to gather many valuable insights to be able to organize the participation model, and now we are focusing on moving forward with the next phases: democracy for peace and creating an agenda on the changes that are necessary to achieve peace. 

On Friday in Leticia, in the Amazon, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, stressed that social participation is one of the pillars of these talks and emphasized the fact that it is Colombian society that is building peace. Regarding the next meeting in Caracas, Ruiz Massieu added that he trusted the parties would continue talks and continue expressing their desire to reach an agreement and overcome any obstacles. “We hope that they listen to society, that they listen to the call to continue consolidating efforts and to overcome any obstacles that arise. They will, of course, have the support of the United Nations in doing so.”


* The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia, Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, supports the Peace Dialogue Table as part of the good offices granted to him by the Secretary-General. The United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, which supports the participation process, also verifies, by mandate of the Security Council, the ceasefire between the government and the ELN.


**Note for editors: we have shared the link with photos and video highlights from both meetings.



By: Jorge Quintero
Public Information Officer
UN Verification Mission in Colombia