Briefing by Carlos Ruiz Massieu, SRSG and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia

13 Apr 2023

Briefing by Carlos Ruiz Massieu, SRSG and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia

Briefing by Carlos Ruiz Massieu, SRSG and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia

Security Council Meeting

April 2023

Thank you, Mr. President,


I thank you for the opportunity to present the most recent report of the Secretary-General on the Verification Mission in Colombia, and to inform this Council on important developments related to the consolidation of peace in the country.

As always, it is a pleasure to be in the company of ambassador Leonor Zalabata and I take this opportunity to thank her and through her the Government of Colombia for the continued collaboration with the Mission and with the United Nations in general.

Mr. President,

I am also honoured to be in the presence of Rodrigo Londoño, former commander of the FARC-EP, signatory party of the Final Peace Agreement and now president of the Comunes political party. Mr. Londoño’s leadership in the transition from war to peace has been and will continue to be fundamental. His participation today is certainly testimony of the commitment of thousands of former combatants to the Final Peace Agreement.

I am pleased that today’s meeting provides a first opportunity for the Security Council to hear directly from both signatory parties about the current status of implementation.

Mr. President, Members of the Council,

The recent meeting between President Gustavo Petro and Mr. Londoño in Bogotá, as well as their joint visit to the former Territorial Area for Training and Reintegration in Mesetas, in Meta department, in the wake of a serious threat by an illegal armed group against dozens of former combatants and their families, are an example of how the parties can work together to address the multiple challenges facing the process and to advance implementation.

I had the opportunity to accompany this visit, to hear first-hand the concerns of men and women in the reintegration process, and to witness their constructive dialogue with the authorities.

I am glad to report that, during this visit –the first one by President Petro to one of these areas–, the President announced several measures to strengthen the reintegration process and security, as well as to expedite the implementation of the Agreement more broadly.

While I regret that this group of former combatants has had to leave the area where they invested so much effort and work into their reintegration into civilian life, it is positive that an orderly relocation plan to a new location with greater security and access to productive land has been agreed upon for them and their families.

Rest assured that the Mission will continue to accompany former combatants and their families, and to monitor progress on the announced measures.

The security of former FARC-EP combatants, as well as that of men and women social leaders, is and will continue to be our top priority.

Mr. President, Distinguished Members of the Council,

The situations I have described to begin this briefing are an illustration of one of the key themes of the Secretary-General’s latest report. That is, the critical importance of both aspects of the policy of Total Peace put forth by the current Government.

On the one hand, the core task of fully implementing the Final Peace Agreement.  One the other its efforts through dialogue, however challenging this may be, to reduce the level of violence by other illegal armed groups so as to expand the scope of peace in the country.

The two aims have become inextricably linked. It is hard to envision either fully succeeding without the other, given the realities on the ground in many of the conflict-affected areas where violence by remaining armed groups is a major obstacle to implementation of the Peace Agreement, and where insufficient implementation also fuels the conditions for that violence.

In recent days, the Government has made clear through additional actions its commitment to the Final Agreement. An important example of this is its decision establish an office headed by a high-level official, within the Presidency, tasked solely to look after the comprehensive implementation of the Final Peace Agreement.

The President also announced plans to cut through legal and bureaucratic impediments to implementation and to involve a whole-of-cabinet approach to complying with the Agreement.

Mr. President, Members of the Council,

This is the first time the report of the Secretary-General includes matters related to the comprehensive rural reform and the ethnic chapter of the Final Agreement, as part of the mandate recently entrusted by this Council to the Mission. These provisions of the Agreement are of enormous magnitude: from bringing much needed infrastructure and investments to remote rural areas to ensuring equitable access to land and redressing the specific impacts suffered by ethnic communities during the conflict.

I am glad therefore that the Mission is already cooperating with the Government and State entities, as well as mechanisms created by the Peace Agreement, as they work to deliver on the expectations of Colombian peasants, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.

It is precisely in these rural areas, and for these vulnerable populations, that we can see again the way in which fuller implementation of the Agreement and dialogue processes with armed groups can be mutually reinforcing.

In acutely conflict-affected areas, such as the Pacific coast, progress on provisions of the Agreement aimed at increasing the State’s presence and at providing development opportunities to historically neglected communities can help address the root causes of the conflict, while steps towards de-escalation through dialogue can contribute to reduce violence, thus enabling better conditions for implementation.

Mr. President, Distinguished Members of the Council,

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) continues to move forward in its essential mandate to investigate and sanction crimes committed by all parties during the conflict. As State entities prepare to implement the first restorative sentences, the trial phase has begun in cases involving former FARC-EP commanders, members of the public security forces and civilian third parties.

Recently, the fundamental role of the truth about what happened during the conflict was highlighted in a powerful act of reconciliation between Rodrigo Londoño and retired Army Colonel Luis Fernando Borja, who is appearing before the SJP within Case 03 on the so called “false positives”.

During a gathering with students at a university in Bogotá, both described the stories that led them from being part of the armed conflict to the path of peace on which they walk together today; expressed their desire that the acknowledgement of their responsibilities contribute to the reparation of victims, reconciliation and non-repetition; and invited youth present to understand the value of peace built on truth and on justice. 

Also with regards the transitional justice process, civil society organizations, particularly those of women, LGBTQI persons and victims, continue to insist on the prompt opening by the SJP of Case 11 on sexual and gender-based violence.

Undoubtedly, the decision announced last year by the Jurisdiction to investigate these serious crimes, which the Council took note of in its October 2022 statement, is a step in the right direction. I hope that, as it already does in other cases, the SJP will soon be able to open this case and work to honour the rights of the victims.

Mr. President,

Advocacy by women’s organizations has also been palpable in the process of designing the national action plan on Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. I am pleased to report that, under the leadership of the Government, a series of regional forums have begun for the development of this action plan, with the participation of women leaders from all over the country, including women former combatants.

Mr. President and Members of the Council,

I would like to conclude by referring to the ongoing peace dialogue processes.

As highlighted by the Secretary General in his report, negotiations between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) continue to advance.

And just as I welcome the constructive spirit that has characterized the first two cycles of dialogue in Venezuela and in Mexico, I hope that the talks during the next round, which will take place in Cuba next month, will yield additional results in terms of violence reduction and the participation of society in peacebuilding.

The tragic loss of human lives in recent events highlights the urgent need for the parties to make progress in negotiating a bilateral ceasefire.  

Also noteworthy is the dialogue and ceasefire process underway between the Government and the group self-identified as Central High Command-FARC.

After six decades of armed conflict, an environment conducive to peace will not be created through more bloodshed among Colombians, quite the contrary.

In this regard, I urge all illegal armed actors not to waste the opportunity presented by the bold pursuit of peace through dialogue. The United Nations will continue to support every effort aimed at alleviating the impact of violence and at consolidating peace. 

I thank you, Mr. President.