Press release on the quarterly Report of the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia
Bogota, 30 June 2022. In a context marked by the presidential elections, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres presents his latest report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, covering the period from 26 March to 27 June 2022. The Secretary-General highlights the largely peaceful conduct of the elections and their inclusive and pluralistic nature, which stand as evidence of the significant contribution of the Final Peace Agreement to the strengthening of Colombia's democracy.
The Secretary-General welcomes the commitment already expressed by President-elect Gustavo Petro to further the implementation of the Agreement and assures the full support of the United Nations for that effort.
The report presents an overview of progress and remaining challenges in the implementation of the Agreement. According to the Secretary-General “much has been achieved already in a Colombia that is today more peaceful and inclusive than before and is taking inspiring steps to come to terms with its past”. However, the Secretary-General notes that much more remains to be done, especially to improve security in conflict-affected areas through both immediate strategies and actions to protect vulnerable communities and populations, and through deeper transformations.
The Secretary-General commends the enduring commitment of former combatants who continue to work towards peace and encourages them and their leaders to remain actively engaged in the implementation and the fulfilment of their obligations. The report highlights progress made in the reintegration process but considers that “efforts are still required to ensure the sustainability of social, economic and political reintegration, including by reinforcing its linkages with other elements of the Agreement and by ensuring former combatants’ legal and physical security.” Furthermore, the Secretary-General applauds the efforts of hundreds of civil servants in support of implementation and calls upon the incoming administration to maintain the necessary support to ensure the sustainability of the reintegration process.
The report highlights that the number of former combatants participating in productive projects has steadily increased since 2018, reaching 67%. To date, the National Reintegration Council has approved 120 collective initiatives benefiting 3,929 people (1,100 women), and the Agency for Reintegration and Normalization has approved 4,366 individual projects benefiting 5,284 people (1,246 women). While 74 per cent of women former combatants participate actively in productive projects, challenges persist especially regarding their participation in decision-making.
The report also notes that insecurity is undermining economic reintegration in several departments such as Arauca, Cauca, Meta, and Putumayo, where illegal armed actors continue targeting cooperatives and leaders of former combatants. Since the signing of the Agreement, 327 former combatants have been killed (11 women), 93 have been victims of attempted homicide (6 women) and 27 are deemed as missing (all men). During the reporting period, 11 former combatants were killed, including one feminicide allegedly committed by the former combatant’s partner.
The report stresses that the Final Agreement was effective in ending the conflict between the Government and the former FARC-EP, and the laydown of arms of the former guerilla led to nationwide reductions of conflict-related violence during the early stages of implementation. However, the report also notes that initial gains on security are increasingly in jeopardy as a result of the proliferation of illegal armed actors who, in the absence of strong institutional capabilities, compete over illicit economies and territorial control. The Secretary-General notes that “for the Agreement's measures on security guarantees to be effective, simultaneous efforts are required to address the causes underpinning persisting violence.”
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between January and May 2022, 60,765 civilians have been forcibly confined and more than 33,800 people have been forcibly displaced, most of whom belong to indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. Similarly, during the reporting period, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights received information about the killing of 56 human rights defenders, including 4 women (7 verified, 39 under verification and 10 inconclusive).
Regarding transitional justice, the report highlights the holding of the first public hearings on acknowledgement of truth and responsibility with participation of members of the former FARC-EP, the security forces and civilian third parties, in the framework of cases 01 and 03. “I am heartened by the strength and generosity displayed by victims during the historic first hearings of truth and acknowledgement of responsibility held recently by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. The hearings attest to the significant progress made by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and are a major step towards achieving justice.” states the Secretary General.
The Secretary-General highlights as another milestone in the peace process the presentation of the Truth Commission’s final report and invites Colombian society to receive the Commission’s work with the utmost respect and openness. “The Truth Commission’s final report and legacy will be a stepping-stone for long-term reconciliation, if Colombians seize the unprecedented opportunity it offers for them to come to terms with their past”. Additionally, as it continues its essential mission, the Unit for the Search for Persons Deemed Missing reported the recovery of the remains of 99 missing persons, for a total of 483 since 2018.
The Secretary-General states that the relentless efforts of women peacebuilders, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, civil society organizations and social leaders, must be matched with sustained commitment by the State, and once more calls upon the Government to guarantee the necessary resources to bring to fruition key pending aspects of the Agreement, including its gender and ethnic provisions.
The report of the Secretary-General will be presented by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, to the United Nations Security Council on 14 July 2022.