Press Release: Presentation by Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, of the report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia to the United Nations Security Council
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, highlighted increasing efforts in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, especially of the comprehensive rural reform, reiterated his concern over violence in the territories and welcomed progress in other peacebuilding efforts
New York, 11 October 2023. At the presentation of the most recent report of the UN Secretary-General on Colombia, covering the period from 27 June to 26 September 2023, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, recognized today before the UN Security Council the increasing efforts by the Government in the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement, especially those related to the comprehensive rural reform.
The SRSG highlighted important policy actions, including significant budget allocations for rural reform, its prioritization in the National Development Plan and increased dialogue with peasant organizations. Ruiz Massieu underscored that “a commitment to this particular section of the Agreement, in addition to the new peace dialogue initiatives, were the outstanding features of the recently concluded first year of the Petro administration as it sought to further consolidate peace in the country.”
The Special Representative regretted, nevertheless, the multiple expressions of violence that persist in various regions of Colombia, which –he affirmed– should not continue to hinder the implementation of the Agreement. In this regard, he highlighted as an important step the recent adoption by the National Commission on Security Guarantees of the long overdue public policy to dismantle illegal armed groups and criminal organizations: “its implementation should help authorities to respond effectively to the ever-evolving threats in the territories.”
In addition, Ruiz Massieu pointed out that the dialogue initiatives promoted by the Government with armed actors are, undoubtedly, a necessary additional effort to reduce the violence that impacts communities.
The SRSG welcomed as a positive development the progress made at the negotiation table between the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN). “I would like to highlight the development of the bilateral ceasefire, which has resulted in a de-escalation of the conflict between the parties.” He also highlighted the importance of the Council’s support in allowing the Mission to contribute to this process through its participation in the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism. “This mechanism is contributing to the prevention and resolution of incidents between the parties,” the Special Representative noted. He also underscored the work of the National Participation Committee installed in August to promote the participation of all sectors of Colombian society in the peace process, and the fact that the process is progressively taking root in Colombia.
Regarding the talks between the Government and the group that identifies itself as Estado Mayor Central FARC-EP, Ruiz Massieu noted as positive that the parties announced, last weekend, a suspension of offensive actions against each other, and their intention to establish peace talks along with the entry into force of a bilateral ceasefire as of 16 October. He also informed of the intention of the parties to request the Council in the near future that the Mission be authorized to participate in the monitoring and verification of the ceasefire.
“The expectations generated by progress towards the construction of a peace process must be matched with the fulfillment of reached commitments, with the de-escalation of confrontations and, especially, with the respect for the rights of communities, social leaders and signatories of the 2016 Agreement,” the Special Representative affirmed.
Before the Security Council, the Special Representative condemned once again “and in the strongest terms possible, the recent assassinations of former FARC-EP combatants,” two since the publication of the report. “Nearly 400 former combatants have been killed since the signing of the Agreement. This is simply unacceptable and calls for urgent and concrete measures from the authorities for their protection, as well as that of social leaders and human rights defenders.”
The SRSG also noted that, unfortunately, violence has already impacted the upcoming local elections –the second since the signing of the Agreement– “I trust that authorities will do their utmost to guarantee that both candidates and voters can participate in the elections in the most inclusive and secure way possible throughout the national territory. This would deepen a tangible outcome of the Final Agreement.”
On the other hand, as this month marks the anniversary of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, the Special Representative commended the Government of Colombia and civil society organizations for their progress towards the finalization of the first national action plan for its implementation.
In this same context, the SRSG highlighted as another key milestone the recent decision of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) to open Case 11, which will address gender-based, sexual and reproductive violence by the parties to the conflict. The Special Representative affirmed that this important development adds up to recent progress by the SJP. He stressed that “promptly reaching the stage in which the SJP issues its first restorative sentences is important for the peace process as a whole. Likewise, for restorative sentences to fulfill their objective and thus honour the principle of the centrality of victims, it will be definitive that the Government guarantees that conditions are in place for their prompt and effective implementation.”
The Special Representative closed his speech by highlighting the peacebuilding efforts underway in Colombia today, noting that “times of tension around the world, Colombia’s case is a reminder that even the most entrenched of conflicts can be resolved through dialogue, and a call to never desist in the search for peace.”