Press release on the quarterly Report of the UN Secretary-General on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia S/2022/715
Bogota, 03 October 2022. In his latest report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, covering the period from 28 June to 26 September 2022, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, acknowledges that recent developments reflect a renewed momentum for peace consolidation. The Secretary-General acknowledges President Gustavo Petro's clear willingness to pursue “total peace.” He is encouraged by the new Government's approach to peace and security, which prioritizes dialogue to resolve conflicts; focuses security strategies on protecting vulnerable communities and human rights; and links durable solutions to violence to overcoming long-standing inequalities through deeper transformations.
For the Secretary-General, this new approach represents an opportunity to further the comprehensive implementation of the Final Peace Agreement. “Should the instruments of the Final Agreement be utilized to their potential, they can help to decisively put an end to the lingering expressions of violence in the country while contributing to the broader goal of creating conditions and opportunities for all in Colombia to live in peace and dignity”. In this regard, the Secretary-General is encouraged by the mutual reassurances of the Government and former FARC-EP combatants to work jointly on implementation.
The report presents an overview of the progress and challenges in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, especially on reintegration, security guarantees and restorative sentences of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) and describes the most important peace-related developments of the period.
The Secretary-General welcomes the efforts undertaken by the Government of President Petro to strengthen peacebuilding with the participation of various sectors of society and welcomes recent efforts by the Government to reinitiate dialogue with the National Liberation Army (ELN). Furthermore, the Secretary-General salutes President Petro's call for a ceasefire by all armed actors, and urges them to respond positively, to place humanitarian principles above any other consideration and to seize the opportunity to reach an end to violence through dialogue.
The Secretary-General trusts that the new Government will strengthen support for the more than 13,000 women and men former combatants committed to peace. To date, 72% of accredited former combatants participate in productive projects, both collective and individual, and almost 80% of women former combatants participate in productive projects, although with limited participation in decision-making. For the Secretary-General “it is crucial that reintegration leave no one behind”, and that efforts reach all former FARC-EP members, both inside and outside former Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration (TATR), and consider the needs of women, indigenous and Afro-Colombian former combatants.
Despite progress, the report warns of persistent challenges facing reintegration, especially insecurity, while stressing that its long-term success depends on security guarantees for former combatants and continued efforts to ensure sustainability. During the period, 15 former combatants were killed (all men), 11 of them in July alone, making it the deadliest month for former combatants since 2019. Since the signing of the Agreement, 342 former combatants have been killed (11 women, 48 Afro-Colombians and 28 indigenous).
The report notes that the actions of illegal armed groups continue in areas with limited State presence, and highlights that violence continues to affect communities, social leaders, and former combatants, with a disproportionate impact on women, indigenous people, and Afro-Colombians. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs informed that, during the reporting period, more than 8,000 persons were confined and more than 13,000 were forcibly displaced. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights received allegations of 45 killings of human rights defenders, including 7 women (8 verified, 27 under verification and 10 inconclusive).
The Secretary-General acknowledges that the new Government has taken first steps to address the persisting violence in several regions and welcomes that the measures announced incorporate elements of the security guarantees provisions of the Agreement. The Secretary-General trusts that these “will be used to their full potential in the months to come, with a view to progressively strengthening the State’s presence and capacities to protect vulnerable groups and to dismantle illegal armed groups and criminal organizations”.
The Secretary-General stresses that the steady advances of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition show that Colombian society and institutions are on the path to reconciliation. The Secretary-General particularly highlights the Truth Commission's Final Report, which he describes as another landmark in the peace process. He also highlights the progress of the SJP with the opening of new cases to address egregious crimes committed by all parties to the conflict and underlines the continued efforts by the Unit for the Search for Missing Persons (UBPD) in its crucial work.
The report highlights that, in August, the Mission and the SJP signed the protocol for the establishment of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism of Restorative sentences. This Mechanism is composed of the SJP’s Section for cases of acknowledgement of truth and responsibility, the SJP’s Executive Secretariat and the Mission, and will enable coordination and information exchange to facilitate the monitoring of the implementation of and compliance with restorative sentences.
“In the face of persistent violence and the unfulfilled expectations of conflict-affected communities, the way forward is to keep striving to attain peace through the full implementation of the Final Agreement and through additional peace initiatives aimed at ending this suffering”. The Secretary-General reiterates that, as ever, the United Nations stands ready to assist Colombians as they strive for peace.
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 12 October 2022.