Secretary-General stresses the importance of implementing the Peace Agreement and advancing on other dialogues that aim to consolidate peace.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES THE IMPORTANCE OF IMPLEMENTING THE PEACE AGREEMENT AND ADVANCING ON OTHER DIALOGUES THAT AIM TO CONSOLIDATE PEACE
Bogotá, April 10, 2023. – In his most recent report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, covering the period from 27 December 2022 to 26 March 2023, UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlights the progress made during this period and the commitment of the parties to the Peace Agreement, even amidst immense challenges, as grounds for optimism. He also underscores that actions to implement the Agreement and the Government’s dialogue initiatives with different armed groups within the framework of its “total peace” policy are mutually reinforcing.
"Focused implementation of the Final Agreement across all its sections must remain at the core of this effort and our support. At the same time, I commend the additional efforts under way to expand the scope of peace through dialogue", the Secretary-General said. “The unescapable reality on the ground today in Colombia is that consolidating the peace depends on both the comprehensive implementation of the Final Agreement and the authorities’ ability to curb ongoing expressions of violence", he added.
This report is the first to include verification of the implementation of the Comprehensive Rural Reform and Ethnic Chapters of the Peace Agreement in accordance with Security Council resolution 2673 (2023), adopted in January this year.
On comprehensive rural reform, the Secretary-General highlights the actions taken so far and the commitment to overcome the historical inequalities that are among the causes of Colombia's conflict. The importance of rural reform for the Government is reflected in the draft National Development Plan, which includes a significant budgetary allocation for point 1 of the Agreement (82% of the total for peace implementation). Likewise, it records steps in the delivery and formalization of land to allow more equitable and broad access to land for rural and conflict-affected populations.
Regarding the Ethnic Chapter, the report underlines the importance of its cross-cutting provisions for addressing the historical demands of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, and whose rate of implementation has been comparatively lower than other points of the Agreement. It emphasizes the role assigned to the office of the Vice President of the Republic to promote its implementation, and it registers the Government’s actions on land restitution for indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. The report also highlights the challenges these communities continue to face, including the insecurity in departments such as Cauca.
With respect the reintegration process, the report indicates that 10,577 of the more than 13,000 accredited ex-combatants (2,570 women) continue their process in more than 600 municipalities outside of the former Territorial Spaces for Training and Reintegration. They do so collectively in 75 new areas of reintegration. In addition, 76% of accredited ex-combatants participate in collective and individual productive projects, many with sustainability challenges that could be solved through a joint strategy defined by the parties.
Regarding the verification of security guarantees, the Secretary-General emphasizes that improving the security of conflict-affected communities, social leaders, and ex-combatants remains a fundamental challenge for peacebuilding.
Since the signing of the Peace Agreement, the Mission has verified 362 murders of ex-combatants (11 women, 49 Afro-Colombians, and 33 indigenous persons). Despite the killings of six former FARC-EP combatants during the reporting period (in Arauca, Cauca, Caquetá, Norte de Santander, and Valle del Cauca), this last quarter was one of the least violent against ex-combatants since the laying down of arms in 2017. However, other forms of violence against them continue, including threats, attempted murders, forced disappearances, and kidnapping. The report also refers to threats to ex-combatants in the former TATR of Mesetas, in Meta Department, and emergency efforts to strengthen security and explore options for their relocation. It notes that the Verification Mission continues to monitor the situation.
Among other security findings during the reporting period, the mission has observed a reduction in killings amid fighting between armed actors in rural areas of Caquetá, Meta, Putumayo, and Norte de Santander. However, high levels of conflict-related violence are of concern in Cauca, Arauca, Chocó, Nariño, and Valle del Cauca.
With respect to the progress made in transitional justice, the Secretary-General reports that the trial stage has begun that will lead to the issuance of sentences against defendants who have acknowledged responsibility and contributed to the truth within Case 01 (on hostage-taking, other severe deprivations of liberty and concurrent crimes committed by the FARC-EP) and Case 03 (on killings and forced disappearances presented as combat casualties by agents of the State) regarding crimes committed in the department of Norte de Santander.
The report also highlights that gender inequalities persist, and the specific risks faced by women, girls, and LGBTI people continue to hamper their effective participation in peacebuilding efforts. The Secretary-General recognizes the leading role of Colombian women as peacebuilders and agents of justice and reconciliation. "I trust that their meaningful participation will be ensured so that their voices can continue to influence the ongoing discussions around peace and security. The United Nations is inspired by their example and stands by their side", he says.
Finally, in the observations, the Secretary-General urgently calls for de-escalation of the conflict and perseverance in the search for peace through dialogue. In this regard, he commends the delegations of the Government and the ELN for their constructive exchange during the second cycle of negotiations in Mexico. "I trust that we will see further results as soon as possible as they turn to key agenda items, including the call of communities for a ceasefire in the next round".
The report also welcomes the search for ceasefires and affirms that, if properly carried out, they have the potential to reduce violence and build confidence in nascent dialogue processes while alleviating obstacles to the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
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 13 April 2023.