The Secretary General acknowledges progress towards the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement and the set in motion of initiatives to consolidate peace in Colombia
THE SECRETARY GENERAL ACKNOWLEDGES PROGRESS TOWARDS THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FINAL PEACE AGREEMENT AND THE SET IN MOTION OF INITIATIVES TO CONSOLIDATE PEACE IN COLOMBIA
Bogotá, 5 October 2023. - In his most recent report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, covering the period from 27 June to 26 September 2023, UN Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledges that the first year of the administration of President Gustavo Petro provided an opportunity to renew commitments in the Peace Agreement and to take decisive actions to fulfil their promise. “The year has also served –the Secretary-General highlights– to set in motion other equally ambitious initiatives in the framework of the Government’s total peace policy”.
The Secretary-General, however, urges to redouble efforts to accelerate progress in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, also noting that “honouring the State’s commitments to victims and vulnerable communities and working to enhance the State’s presence throughout the territories is a profound responsibility and an unparalleled way to demonstrate political will and to strengthen the State’s legitimacy.”
On efforts to broaden the scope of peace, he salutes recent progress in negotiations between the Government and the ELN, “which reflects both parties’ resolve to end decades of conflict.”
The report welcomes the Government’s efforts to accelerate the implementation of the comprehensive rural reform, and recalls that the delivering land and support for production to landless peasants, women and victims is critical to materialize these efforts. The report highlights as a positive development that, in August, President Petro launched the national agrarian reform system, a key interinstitutional coordination mechanism to ensure coherent implementation, including by fostering the participation of peasants, women, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations. The Secretary-General calls upon all actors Involved in the comprehensive rural reform to prioritize dialogue as the foremost means to foster progress.
In terms of security guarantees, the report highlights the approval by the National Commission on Security Guarantees of the public policy to dismantle illegal armed groups and criminal organizations and its action plan, a long-awaited instrument for halting violence in conflict-affected areas.
The Secretary-General regrets that the violence against former members of the FARC-EP persists. Fifteen former combatants were killed during this period. Since the signing of the Final Peace Agreement, the Mission has verified 394 killings of former FARC-EP combatants (11 women, 57 Afro-Colombians and 39 Indigenous). The Secretary-General urges the Government "to take all measures necessary to ensure their security and protection and calls upon judicial authorities to swiftly bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.”
Regarding violence against communities and social leaders and human rights defenders, the report mentions that, according to OCHA, from 27 June to 30 August 2023, 8,556 persons were forcibly displaced and 27,183 persons were confined, for a total of 87,098 people affected during 2023, a reduction of 31 per cent compared to the same period in 2022. In turn, OHCHR received 52 allegations of killings of human rights defenders (4 verified, 44 under verification and 4 inconclusive). This represents a 13 per cent decrease when compared with the previous period.
The Secretary-General called for a cessation of violence in areas still affected by the armed conflict: “I call on all armed groups behind this violence to halt their actions against civilians, to engage in good faith in ongoing peace initiatives and to also seek to de-escalate violence against one another. This is the way to demonstrate to Colombians and to the world their true will for peace.”
Enhanced security measures are particularly important in light of the upcoming elections, which he hopes “will take place in an environment of peace, respect and wide participation”. He notes that the Comunes party endorses 299 candidates (128 women) for the upcoming departmental and municipal elections, of which 69 (17 women) are former combatants. Another 76 former combatants (17 women) are endorsed by a broad spectrum of political parties and coalitions.
On reintegration, the report highlights the efforts by the parties to promote a more sustainable and comprehensive approach. In a welcome development, the National Reintegration Council, NRC, approved a strategy to promote former combatants’ access to employment by providing incentives to private companies and fostering employment in the public sector, as well as the fact that the Agency for Reintegration and Normalization, ARN, allocated approximately USD 1 million for the implementation of a new strategy to empower women former combatants.
According to the report, 77.6 per cent of accredited former combatants participate in State-sponsored projects (86 per cent of women former combatants). In addition, there are 218 former combatants’ cooperatives (56 led by women) grouping some 7,000 former combatants countrywide. The report highlights that 13 out of 24 former territorial areas for training and reintegration, TATRs, have land purchased by the State and reiterates that it remains essential to find solutions to relocate former TATRs in Cauca, Putumayo and Antioquia which face serious security threats.
The report also acknowledges the progress across the cases of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, SJP, and notes that the prompt issuance by the SJP of the first restorative sentences is of the essence to the transitional justice process. To that end, additional efforts by the Government to ensure the conditions for the implementation of restorative sentences remain essential.
On the other hand, it draws attention to the fact that, despite the Government’s reiterated commitment to advancing the ethnic provisions of the Final Peace Agreement, most efforts continue to be in the planning stage.
Regarding the dialogues with the ELN, the report also highlights that the fourth round of talks took place in a constructive environment and against the backdrop of the implementation of agreements reached to date, including the ongoing ceasefire. It mentions that the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, which is working at the national, regional and local levels, presented its first report to the delegations at the negotiation table on 3 September. According to the report, “the parties have successfully avoided any significant confrontation and both the ceasefire and the work of the Mechanism contribute to conflict de-escalation, ultimately benefitting local communities”. However, the impact of the bilateral ceasefire on the overall humanitarian situation has been limited due to ongoing violence among other armed actors operating in some of the same areas.
In addition to the ceasefire, the Secretary-General highlights the work of the National Participation Committee and recent agreements regarding critical areas for humanitarian interventions as “an encouraging call to all actors invested in Colombia’s lasting peace to continue to assist the parties as they move forward with the negotiations’ agenda”. These preliminary results of the process speak of the potential for a sustained de-escalation of violence, which the Secretary-General hopes will continue in the interest of conflict-affected communities.
The Secretary-General also welcomes the ongoing talks between the Government and the group that identifies itself as the EMC FARC-EP, and trusts that recent steps towards de-escalating violence and starting official negotiations, including an agreement on a ceasefire with protections for civilians, will materialize and lead to tangible benefits, as is the desire of communities in conflict-affected areas.
The Secretary-General reiterates that the people of Colombia can continue to count on the resolute support of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General's report will be presented to the Security Council by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Colombia, Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, on 11 October 2023.