Press release on the UN Secretary-General's quarterly report to the Security Council on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia
Bogota, 30 June 2021. - The most recent quarterly report by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia will be presented to the United Nations Security Council in New York on 13 July.
The report will be presented in person by the Special Representative and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu.
This report, which covers 27 March to 25 June 2021, highlights the implementation of the Peace Agreement and the work of the parties during a particularly complex period for the country, which includes the third and most severe wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a challenging economic situation and unprecedented social unrest.
Regarding the events related to the national strike, the Secretary-General highlights that the Agreement proved the value of dialogue in resolving conflict and offered a set of instruments to address several long-standing issues that have been the subject of discussions.
“In these difficult times and as the country prepares for a new electoral cycle, I call upon all political and social actors in Colombia to commit to non-violence and to prioritize dialogue to find mutually agreeable solutions. That is the path that will allow Colombia to continue to move towards reconciliation and the restoration of its war-torn social fabric. The United Nations remains fully committed and available to assist in the realization of that objective,” is the call of the Secretary-General.
The report highlights progress and challenges within the framework of the five priorities for the comprehensive implementation of the Final Agreement recommended by the Secretary-General for 2021, namely protection and security for former combatants, conflict-affected communities, social leaders and human rights defenders; the sustainability of the reintegration process; the consolidation of the integrated presence of the State in conflict-affected areas; the reinforcement of a constructive dialogue between the parties; and the promotion of reconciliation. The Secretary-General also highlighted the importance of continuing to move forward in the comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement, especially as we approach the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Agreement.
The Secretary-General particularly highlights that an important milestone in the peace process in Colombia was reached during this period with the response given to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) by the former commanders of the FARC-EP’s secretariat in the framework of Case 01, acknowledging their responsibilities for crimes committed by the former guerrilla in the framework of this case, including kidnapping.
The report also mentions that the progress and recent developments related to the work of the transitional justice system are a sign that Colombia's peace process is entering a key phase. The Secretary-General also stresses that the SJP, the Truth Commission and the Unit for the Search of Persons Deemed as Missing continue to prove their value, and the significance of their work deserves the utmost respect and support from all parties and all actors of Colombian society.
The Secretary-General notes that the commitment of all parties to the conflict to contribute to upholding victims’ rights is fundamental for Colombian society to reconcile with its past. Such a commitment demands that all actors contribute fully to the truth and recognize their responsibilities for their crimes and that they take steps to repair damage caused during the conflict.
The Secretary-General reaffirms that guaranteeing the security of former combatants, social leaders and human rights defenders and communities is an essential condition for the Final Agreement to take root and that, despite the efforts and measures taken by the Government and State institutions, more effective actions are still required to address the multiple, persisting risks, especially in those areas where the Agreement was expected to be a turning point from violence to lasting peace.
During this period, the Mission verified 16 homicides of former FARC-EP combatants, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported 49 killings of human rights leaders and defenders. OHCHR also documented nine massacres during this period and 10 more are being verified.
The report notes that violence due to disputes over social and territorial control between illegal armed actors continues to affect communities, human rights defenders, social leaders and former combatants, particularly in 25 municipalities in the departments of Antioquia, Cauca, Caquetá, Guaviare, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo and Valle del Cauca.
The Secretary-General adds that forced mass displacement and confinement of civilians continue, particularly affecting indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in Antioquia, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño and Valle del Cauca.
The report further informs that there have been new cases of violence against members of various political parties. The Secretary-General also warns about the persistence of the risks faced by women leaders and the need to advance in the implementation of the Comprehensive Programme for Safeguards for Women Leaders and Human Rights Defenders.
The Secretary-General stresses that the results attained thus far in the reintegration process are commendable, but the challenges ahead are equally significant, and therefore it is necessary to take firm steps to consolidate the process in the coming months. The report emphasizes that the vast majority of former combatants remain committed to the reintegration process and that greater support is needed to ensure the sustainability of productive projects, including specific support for female former combatants.
Approximately half of the 13,589 accredited former combatants are involved in individual or collective productive projects. Ninety collective projects have been approved in the National Reintegration Council (NRC)(two during this period), benefiting about 3,500 people. The report reiterates that those outside the former territorial areas for training and reintegration (TATRs) face greater difficulties in accessing the benefits of reintegration.
The Secretary-General indicates that access to land and housing is essential to provide security and a sense of belonging to former combatants. In this regard, progress is reported in the purchase of land by the Government for former TATRs, with the acquisition of land for two additional plots in Guaviare and Nariño. With this, the Government has purchased land for 7 of the 24 former TATR.
As the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Final Agreement approaches, the Secretary-General once again welcomes the parties’ resolve to move forward with constructive engagement regarding implementation despite what are often deeply held differences.
The Secretary-General is grateful for the trust placed by the parties in the work of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, which led them to recently request the expansion of its mandate to include verification of compliance with and implementation of restorative sentences to be issued by the SJP, and says that the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of its resolution 2574 (2021) is a further demonstration of the unyielding support of the international community to the efforts by Colombia to build lasting peace.