Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia

31 Dec 2018

Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia

Bogotá, 31 December 2018. In his quarterly report to the Security Council on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, the UN Secretary-General offers an assessment of the progress made in implementation of the Peace Agreement with regard to economic, social and political reintegration of former combatants of the FARC-EP, their security guarantees and those of their families, and security guarantees for the communities most affected by the conflict. The report covers the period from 26 September to 26 December 2018 and offers observations on continuing efforts to consolidate peace in Colombia.

The report notes that President Iván Duque expressed, during the first 100 days of his Government, repeated commitments to continue implementation of the peace process within the framework of a broader governing agenda of equity, legality and entrepreneurship.  During a 12 October visit to a Territorial Area for ​​Training and Reintegration in Pondores, in the department of La Guajira, where ex-members of the FARC-EP are carrying out reintegration activities, President Duque indicated that the visit was intended to affirm his Government’s intention to support the Peace Agreement and those committed to returning to civilian life.

During the reporting period, Colombians marked the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Final Peace Agreement; the Secretary-General recalls his statement commending Colombians on this watershed and for providing a source of inspiration to peacemakers around the world and noting that a great deal of hard work remains to be done to consolidate the peace.  He notes that nothing less than a concerted effort will be required involving the Government and other State institutions, political parties, the private sector and civil society, with the accompaniment of the international community.

As expressed in previous reports, one of the main challenges to accelerating the implementation process is a greater presence of the State in the zones affected by the conflict in response to the clamour of communities, of victims and of former combatants in the reintegration process for security, education, health, land, infrastructure and viable alternatives to illegal economies.  In this regard, the Secretary-General praises the current Government for having prepared the "Peace with Legality" plan, which, building on instruments such as the Development Plans with a Territorial Approach (PDET), promises a wide-ranging and well-articulated effort to secure, stabilize and develop the former conflict areas, including efforts to fulfil commitments victims, to communities involved in the voluntary substitution of illicit crops and to those in the reintegration process. It underlines the urgency of translating these new plans as quickly as possible into effective action that changes the realities on the ground. The dream of a lasting peace in Colombia depends upon it.

The report confirms that bilateral bodies to promote the implementation of peace, comprising the Government and the People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC), including the Commission for the Follow-up, Promotion and Verification of the Implementation of the Final Agreement (CSIVI) and the National Reintegration Council, continue to meet regularly.  An increase in the number of projects approved by the National Reintegration Council contributed to socio-economic reintegration of former FARC-EP members during this period.  In total, 20 collective projects and 29 individual projects have been approved. Together, these projects are valued at US $ 3.7 million and will benefit a total of 1,340 former combatants (including 366 women). The United Nations post-conflict multi-partner trust fund for Colombia is also supporting 15 productive projects implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The report signals the importance of ​​ensuring that all these projects are sustainable, a goal shared by the Government and the FARC.  Key elements in this regard are the strengthening of the technical capacities of cooperatives, access to land and markets and the effective inclusion of a gender approach for the economic empowerment of women.

The Secretary-General, in his report, remains greatly concerned regarding continuing attacks against social leaders and human rights defenders. He notes that, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, there have been seven verified killings since September 2018 and another 22 cases are in the process of verification and, since the signing of the Peace Agreement in November 2016, 163 murders of social leaders and human rights defenders have been verified and a total of 454 cases have been reported. This situation illustrates the critical importance of the effective implementation of the "Action Plan Timely for the Protection of Social and Community Leaders, Human Rights Defenders and Journalists” launched by the Government on 19 November.  In his report, the Secretary-General also invites the National Commission on Security Guarantees (CNGS) to be reconvened, a body that, with the participation of senior State Officials and civil society, seeks to design strategies to address the risks posed by illegal groups and to dismantle organized criminal groups.

The report also expresses concern for the killing of 14 former FARC-EP members, bringing to 85 the number killed since the signing of the Peace Agreement in November 2016. The most affected departments continue to be Cauca, Nariño, Antioquia, Norte of Santander and Caquetá. This situation requires reinforced security arrangements and strategies for former combatants.

Likewise, the report highlights that a joint statement was made by the United Nations Verification Mission and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, issued on 5 October, stressed the central role of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace within the Colombian peace process and the need for all public entities to fully respect its independence and autonomy. As of 5 October, 13,271 people have signed agreements subjecting themselves to the authority of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, including 1,923 members of public security forces, 11,303 former FARC-EP members, 33 public officials and 12 people involved in arrests linked to social protests. The report underscores the importance of the inauguration of the Truth Commission on 29 November charged with strengthening reconciliation efforts in Colombia.

With respect to the Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration (TATRs), the report indicates that the conditions across these 24 locations vary considerably and notes the importance of pending decisions regarding the status of these TATRs and of payments of the basic monthly allowance, both currently authorised until 15 August 2019.  It will be important to ensure that any decision taken is informed by a full understanding of the conditions across the various TATRs, as well as other rural and urban settlements, given the marked delays in economic reintegration. 

Regarding dialogue between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Secretary-General states that, although the positions of the two sides are further apart today than they have been since the start of public discussions in 2016, it is very important that channels of communication remain open.

The Secretary-General reiterates that the United Nations, through the Mission and the United Nations System in Colombia, will be following closely and offering its support for the implementation of critical initiatives, including the efforts of the new Government to inject greater vigour and viability into the socioeconomic reintegration of ex-combatants. He conveys his expectation that the Security Council will maintain its united and unequivocal support for the peace process, noting that this support remains an essential factor behind the success of the peace process, as does the involvement of the wider international community.

Finally, the Secretary-General thanks his Special Representative, Jean Arnault, as he completes his assignment, for his many outstanding contributions to the peace process in Colombia, and expresses his full confidence that his successor, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, will continue to provide committed and effective United Nations leadership on the ground as Special Representative and Head of the Verification Mission.


Download the report here