Statement from Jean Arnault, Head Of The United Nations Verification Mission In Colombia, to the Security Council.

26 Jul 2018

Statement from Jean Arnault, Head Of The United Nations Verification Mission In Colombia, to the Security Council.




Mr. President,

Distinguished members of the Council,

Thank you for this opportunity to present to you the report of the Secretary-General on the peace process in Colombia covering the last four months, which coincide with the conclusion of the mandate of President Juan Manuel Santos. 

It is an honour to share once again the floor with Vice President Oscar Naranjo who, throughout this period, along with the High Commissioner for Peace Rodrigo Rivera, and other members of the Government, has been at the forefront of efforts to press forward with the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and to provide as firm a basis as possible on which the next government can build. 

The Vice President and the Mission have developed a good working method:  establishing common quarterly priorities with regard to issues under UN verification, and applying our respective resources and leverage to meet those goals.   Progress may have been partial, and delays have occurred, but we have been more successful in pushing implementation working together than we would have been working separately.  We are ready to adopt the same collaborative approach with the incoming administration of President-elect Iván Duque.  

As an example of our common work, in the last quarter we have put special emphasis on applying a gender approach, more forcefully to the reintegration of former combatants and to the security guarantees for communities, with some positive results which are reflected in the Secretary-General´s report.  


Mr. President,

Distinguished members of the Council,

Since the report of the Secretary-General was issued, on 20 of July, Colombia´s Independence Day, the new Congress was inaugurated. It includes representatives of the political party FARC, and its procedures are aligned with the “Statute of the Opposition, a key part of the peace-related legislation adopted earlier this year that provides for a more level playing field between the majority and the opposition in all elected assemblies.  The Statute guarantees, among other provisions, the presence of the opposition in the governing bodies of both Chambers. 

The presence of the political party FARC fulfills one of the core objectives of the Final Peace Agreement, and this Congress is among the more diverse, plural and representative in the country´s legislative history. 

Within our mandate, we are ready and willing to cooperate with all its members.

This is not the only achievement of the past month.  Special recognition must be given to the work of the Special Peace Jurisdiction - SPJ.   The peace agreement recognized the deep aspiration of Colombian society to truth and justice along with the termination of the conflict.   Unfortunately, the long delays involved in the establishment of the Jurisdiction and the adoption of its normative framework created within public opinion a lingering sense that truth and justice were somehow overshadowed by the political process.

The first hearings held by the Peace Jurisdiction on the 10 and 13 July involving a former army general and the former general command of the FARC-EP were therefore extremely important to start dispelling the perception of impunity. The pursuit of accountability through the Jurisdiction and the Truth Commission will continue to be critical to the legitimacy of the peace process. 

Time will tell, but the positive response from victims and the recent decision of senior army officers to accept voluntarily the jurisdiction of the SPJ is an indication that the Colombian peace process may well be close to striking the right balance between the demands of peace and justice - a balance that as you know has been elusive, more often than not, in the negotiated settlement of armed conflicts.   The international community should therefore maintain its support for the SPJ, the Truth Commission and the Unit for the Search of Missing Persons.

I also want to bring into relief the national “pact of repudiation of violence against social leaders” signed by President Santos and President-elect Duque, among others.  It is the first time that violence against social leaders is received with such a strong sense of outrage, expressed in the streets of Colombia and cities abroad, in the halls of national institutions and across the political spectrum.  In the polarized context of a protracted electoral campaign, in a society at times indifferent to developments in the zones of conflict, this national consensus against attacks on social leaders is significant.

As mentioned in the Secretary-General´s report, the most important measures provided in the peace agreement for improving the security of communities have begun to be implemented, even if their impact to date is clearly insufficient. We hope that this consensus and sense of urgency on the part of Colombian society will give momentum to the implementation of these measures, and will galvanize the efforts of the justice system to prosecute those responsible for these attacks.

Supporting institutions in their effort to curb the violence in the territories will remain a top priority for the Mission.

We very much hope that a similar consensus can be forged around the central challenge for consolidating peace, that is, to address the combination of poverty, violence and illegal economies to which inhabitants of the zone of conflict has been subjected.  A tightly coordinated and well-resourced effort by state institutions in cooperation with affected communities and their organizations will be required to bring the rule of law, security and legal productive opportunities to areas that have long been prey to violence and State neglect.   I would therefore like to echo the Secretary-General´s report and call for dialogue and cooperation between the new national government, local authorities, social organizations and civil society in the territories.   We believe such dialogue, such cooperation are a pre-requisite for success.


Mr President,

Distinguished members of the Council,

While participation of FARC representatives in the Congress is a major step forward, reintegration into civilian life of former FARC-EP members is unfinished business. 

The Secretary-General has underlined in past reports the difficult environment in which this reintegration is taking place.   To complete the work started by the current Government will no doubt require dedication and resources. But fulfilling the guarantees given to those who have laid down their weapons and undergo now the difficult transition to civilian life is essential for Colombia, and is also essential for Colombia to be a source of motivation for parties to conflicts elsewhere in the world. 

In concluding, let me express the Mission´s appreciation to the Government of President Santos, the leadership of FARC, Colombia’s institutions and civil society who have welcomed us and cooperated generously with our work during the past two years.  As the new authorities take office, the can count on the support of this Mission as they take on the very hard work of consolidating peace and achieving reconciliation.  

Thank you.