Press release on the UN Secretary-General's Quarterly Report to the Security Council on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia S/2021/824
Bogota, 30 September 2021. “The approaching fifth anniversary of the signing of the Final Agreement should be an opportune moment to take stock of its major achievements and to renew a collective commitment to build upon these, while working to overcome the outstanding challenges to its implementation,” as the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, points out in his latest report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, which covers the period from 26 June to 24 September 2021.
Among the achievements of the Peace Agreement five years into its implementation, the Secretary-General mentions the successful ceasefire and the laying down of arms by former combatants, which allowed them to participate in democracy. He also notes that the Agreement enabled spaces for communities to participate in the design of development plans and alternatives to illicit economies, and incorporated an unprecedented approach to gender-related matters in peace processes. It also created a novel transitional justice system that upholds the rights of victims and demonstrates that peace and justice need not be in conflict. Additionally, the Secretary-General highlights as an important milestone in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, the creation of the 16 special transitional electoral districts for peace, which will allow historically excluded populations in conflict-affected regions to participate in Congress.
The Secretary-General underscores that, while the Colombian peace process continues to be a source of inspiration for the world, the parties, Colombian society, and the international community should not neglect the daunting challenges and risk factors still facing its long-term consolidation. Chief among them is the violence in several regions of the country. According to the report, violence against former combatants, social leaders, and human rights defenders continues to be concentrated in 25 municipalities in the country, mainly located in areas prioritized for the Agreement’s implementation.
During this period, the report registers the killings of 14 FARC-EP former combatants (all men), bringing the total to 292 (nine women) since the signing of the Agreement. The Mission observed a significant deterioration of former combatants’ security in Cauca, Nariño and Valle del Cauca, departments that concentrate more than a third of the killings since the signing of the Agreement.
In addition, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights received information on the killings of 43 human rights defenders, for a total of 158 killings in 2021. Further, 11 massacres were documented, leaving 38 victims (another 16 are being verified).
The report also notes that the persistence of violence continues to generate mass displacements and confinements, especially in the departments of Antioquia, Bolívar, Cauca, Chocó, Córdoba and Nariño, particularly affecting indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
In this regard, the Secretary-General notes that the Agreement’s various provisions on security guarantees have the potential to prevent and respond to what remains the greatest threat to the rule of law; and stresses the importance of strengthening the integrated presence of the State to curb violence. Furthermore, the Secretary-General reiterates his call to all institutions to act upon the recommendations of the Office of the Ombudsman’s early warnings.
Regarding the reintegration process, the Secretary-General highlights progress achieved despite ongoing challenges. “Owing to the parties’ resolve and mutual understanding of the importance of properly setting the foundations of the process, today we are witnessing outcomes worth preserving and building upon.” During this period, the National Reintegration Council approved 9 collective productive projects, bringing the total to 99. Additionally, the Agency for Reintegration and Normalization approved 481 individual projects, bringing the total to 3,190. To date, 7,327 former combatants are benefiting from productive projects, which represents 54 per cent of the 13,608 accredited former combatants.
The Government purchased land for two additional former TATRs in La Guajira and Caquetá departments. To date, the Government has purchased land for nine of the 24 former TATRs. “I urge the Government to spare no efforts to accelerate former combatants’ access to land and housing, and to enable a safe environment in the areas in which their individual and collective reintegration is taking place,” affirms the Secretary-General.
The report also highlights the fundamental role of the transitional justice system. The Secretary-General particularly commends the work of the Truth Commission, salutes the significant progress made by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in issuing its first two indictments within Case 03, and underscores the work of the Unit for the Search for Persons Deemed as Missing, which has handed over 123 bodies of missing persons to their families. “For the Comprehensive System to continue its work, I reiterate my call to all Colombians to extend their support, to respect and to contribute to its efforts, and I urge the Government to provide the necessary resources,” states the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General's report will be presented by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, to the United Nations Security Council on 14 October 2021.