The Special Representative of the Secretary General, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, highlighted progress in the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement and dialogue efforts in Colombia
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, highlighted progress in the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement and dialogue efforts in Colombia.
New York, 12 July 2023. At the presentation of the most recent report of the UN Secretary-General on Colombia, covering the period from 27 March to 26 June 2023, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, highlighted before the UN Security Council the progress made in the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement during this period, as well as efforts to engage in dialogue with armed groups of different nature. These two efforts, said Carlos Ruiz Massieu, are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
According to Ruiz Massieu, the progress made during this period is an indication that implementation is gaining traction across several sections of the Agreement and “shows that, with the participation of different actors, efforts to consolidate peace are yielding important results”. Also in attendance during the session were the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Álvaro Leyva, and social leader Diana Salcedo.
The Special Representative welcomed the numerous peace-related provisions of the National Development Plan, the increased attention to comprehensive rural reform, and the allocation of much-needed funding for the implementation of the Peace Agreement. He welcomed the approval of legislation pertaining to the comprehensive rural reform and said that he trusts that political actors from across the spectrum will continue to find ways to build consensus to consolidate peace. He also reiterated the importance of following through on the decision to appoint a top official within the Presidency dedicated to overseeing the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement.
Regarding the reintegration process, the SRSG echoed the Secretary-General in commending the Government’s new approach, stressing sustainability, community-based reintegration with an emphasis on reconciliation, access to land and gender and women’s empowerment. Mr Ruiz Massieu also highlighted the approval by the parties of a sustainability strategy to support collective productive projects and the allocation of funding for this purpose.
The Special Representative further highlighted the establishment of the Ministry of Equality, led by Vice-President Francia Márquez, as well as progress by the Office of the Vice-President in crafting ways to further the implementation of the Agreement’s ethnic chapter as important steps for improving the situation of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and other vulnerable groups.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu referred to progress by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) in its different cases, including through new indictments. He particularly stressed that the centrality of victims is a promise of the Agreement and a fundamental principle of its implementation: “The voices of the victims demanding truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition have resonated strongly in recent hearings of the Jurisdiction with members of the different parties to the conflict appearing before the Jurisdiction”.
He mentioned the hearing in Dabeiba, Antioquia, which took place despite death threats from those who seek to hinder truth and justice. In powerful testimonies, members of the security forces under the Jurisdiction’s authority acknowledged their responsibility in extrajudicial executions, crimes that illustrate the degradation of the conflict.
The SRSG added that he hopes that the SJP will continue to move decisively towards the issuance of its first restorative sentences, which will undoubtedly mark another milestone in the Colombian peace process. He further expressed his solidarity with the SJP in the face of the new threats reported yesterday by its President, Justice Roberto Vidal.
Additionally, he said that the victims and civil society organizations have persisted in seeking justice for crimes related to sexual violence in the conflict and continue to await a definitive decision by the SJP regarding the opening of Case 11 on this matter.
The Special Representative regretted that violence continues to hinder the realization of the full potential of the Agreement but stressed that he trusts that recent measures, such as the adoption of a new security and defence policy, will soon bear results and help improve the situation in conflict-affected regions.
He also expressed concern about the persistent violence against former combatants, five of whom have been killed since the publication of the Secretary-General’s report, and he condemned once again the recent armed attack against members of the Catholic Church in Caldono, Cauca. I reiterate our solidarity with the Church, an invaluable ally for peacebuilding and reconciliation.
In view of the October territorial elections, he called on illegal armed actors to respect the right of citizens and candidates of all political parties to participate in a campaign free of threats and further reiterated a call to the authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure that the elections take place in a safe and participatory environment, with full guarantees for the participation of women in politics.
For the SRSG, the Government’s drive for the implementation of key aspects of the Peace Agreement has been accompanied by efforts to engage in dialogue with armed groups of different nature. In this regard, Mr. Ruiz Massieu said that the results achieved in Cuba in the third round of negotiations between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) are very encouraging. He also welcomed the cessation of offensive actions between the parties as a step toward the full entry into force of a bilateral ceasefire on 3 August and the upcoming installation of the National Participation Committee, which will promote the broad involvement of society in the peace process. The Special Representative stated that he trusts that “the will of the parties will be maintained and will lead to further progress.
Mr Ruiz Massieu also highlighted the engagement between the Government and the group that calls itself ‘Estado Mayor Central FARC’. Their joint announcement regarding the decision to establish a negotiating table is positive news, he said. “I hope that trust-building between the parties will continue and that there will soon be developments regarding the formal start of negotiations and a renewed national ceasefire”.
According to Ruiz Massieu, this and other dialogue initiatives are an opportunity to achieve concrete commitments to reduce the suffering of civilians victims of the conflict and, in particular, to reduce violence against former combatants and social leaders.
The Special Representative reiterated, in this context, the Secretary-General’s conviction that the Mission can make an important contribution through the monitoring and verification of ceasefires.