Statement by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu for United Nations Security Council Briefing on Colombia

19 Jul 2019

Statement by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu for United Nations Security Council Briefing on Colombia

Señor Presidente, distinguidos miembros del Consejo:

Es un honor presentar el más reciente informe del Secretario General sobre Colombia.  Aprovecho para saludar la presencia del Señor Néstor Popolizio, Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores del Perú y Presidente del Consejo de Seguridad, del Señor Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Canciller de Colombia y del Señor Emilio Archila, Consejero Presidencial para la Estabilización y la Consolidación.

Mr. President,

During the visit to Colombia last week, Council members were able to appreciate the achievements of the peace process since their last visit two years ago, as well as the remaining challenges.  The visit was a timely reaffirmation of the international community’s strong support for this process.  It was well received by the Government, by the FARC, political parties from across the spectrum, the heads of the transitional justice system, civil society organizations, and local authorities and community leaders with whom the Council met in the department of Cauca. 

Mr. President, 

As pointed out by the Secretary-General in his report, and as the Council was able to observe on the ground, the assessment of the peace process is mixed.  While efforts by the Government to advance the reintegration of former FARC-EP members have begun showing important concrete results, security in conflict affected areas remains of grave concern.   

It is also important to highlight that, despite some recent examples to the contrary, the great majority of former FARC-EP members, as well as the leadership of the FARC party, remain strongly committed to the peace process.  This commitment is reflected in their participation in Congress, their preparations to take part in the upcoming elections and their efforts to reintegrate into civilian life and to build a better future for their families and communities.  Just to cite a few examples of what has been accomplished through the perseverance of former combatants, last week, products of FARC-led cooperatives were on display at Colombia’s largest agricultural fair in Bogotá, including coffee, beef products, and handicrafts.  And this past May, five former combatants and three community members who have become rafting trainers as part of an ecoturism project competed under the Colombian flag at the World Rafting Championships in Australia.  The support of the Government, local communities, and the international community among others has been instrumental in making this possible.

Mr. President,

Over the last six weeks, the Government, the FARC and the Mission have undertaken visits to ten Territorial Areas to discuss their future with former combatants, communities and local authorities.  We commend both the Government and the FARC for their flexibility and willingness to find mutually-agreeable solutions.  This successful joint effort led by the Government to overcome a hurdle in implementation through dialogue should set an example to advance in other areas.

The Government has reassured former combatants of its commitment to formalize land arrangements for the TATRs and to maintain the monthly allowance for former combatants.  It is essential to ensure adequate resources to meet Government goals for housing, health, education and childcare.

Mr. President,

It is urgent to increase the number of productive projects for former combatants and to provide the necessary technical assistance and access to markets in order to ensure their sustainability.  Both parties have a responsibility for re-energizing the process of presentation, approval and disbursement of funding for the projects.  Communities, ethnic populations and women should be at the center of these efforts.

Proper attention must also be paid to the approximately 8,000 former combatants living outside the Territorial Areas, including in new settlements and urban areas.  All actors involved in supporting the reintegration process must recognize this changing landscape and adapt strategies accordingly with a view to provide these former combatants with reintegration options and with security guarantees.

Mr. President,

As the Council heard directly from communities in Cauca, the security situation is extremely concerning in former conflict areas.  Since the Secretary-General’s report was issued three weeks ago, four more former combatants have been killed, bringing to 127 the number of former FARC-EP members killed since the Peace Agreement was signed.  One of those killed was a former mid-level commander who had been active in the negotiations in Havana and was leading a productive project. 

The Attorney-General’s Special Investigation Unit reports advances in half of the cases of killings of former combatants.  This progress is key, as timely investigations are essential to combat impunity, including for intellectual authors of these crimes. 

In this context, we welcome the new measures announced by President Duque to improve security and protection for former combatants.  Sufficient resources should also be provided to the National Protection Unit, which provides protection for FARC members.

It is important to make every effort so that the upcoming October local elections can be as peaceful as last year’s presidential and legislative elections.  These elections will be another important step in the FARC’s political reintegration. To date, the party has registered more than 120 candidates; approximately half of whom are former combatants.  Additional steps must be taken to ensure their security, as well as that of candidates from all other political parties.

Mr. President,

We remain gravely concerned about the situation of social leaders and human rights defenders.  You will recall that one leader from Cauca, Francia Márquez, was not able to attend the meeting with the Council after being threatened by an illegal armed group.  The plight of hundreds of brave leaders under threat around the country is unacceptable.

The Subcommission of the National Commission on Security Guarantees recently met to receive inputs from civil society organizations, but we remain concerned that the Commission itself has not met for many months.  Its mandate –the design and implementation of a public policy to dismantle criminal organizations– is essential to put a stop to these killings.

It is important to note that the Government has just announced protective measures for leaders of the programme for substitution of illicit crops.  I welcome these measures as well as recent efforts to implement the comprehensive programme to address the specific situation of women leaders. These populations are particularly vulnerable to threats from criminal armed groups and deserve, and have been given, special attention. 

Mr. President,

The presence of illegal armed groups in former conflict areas affects all actors present in these areas, including members of the public security forces whose deaths at the hands of these groups we also strongly deplore.

In this context, the importance of establishing an integrated presence of the State –both security and civilian institutions– in conflict-affected areas cannot be overstated.  It is not surprising that local communities and authorities have been unanimous in their desire for the TATRs to remain, as the resulting increased presence of State institutions has brought improvements in security and economic activity.  The implementation of the development programmes with a territorial focus (PDETs) should also have a positive effect in bringing much-needed investments in these areas. 

Mr. President,

The last few weeks have been marked by the increased participation of victims in the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition. For instance, on 26 June, the Truth Commission held its first national event on truth, focused on victims of sexual violence during the conflict.

Colombia’s innovative model of restorative justice is starting to deliver on its promise to ensure justice and reparations for victims.  Continued support for the Comprehensive System, including adequate financial resources, is essential.

Señor Presidente, 

El 15 de julio, el Presidente Duque sancionó una de las reformas constitucionales propuestas por el Gobierno, que si bien se centra en disposiciones del Acuerdo Final de Paz sobre el tratamiento de ciertos delitos, establece claramente que su aplicación es únicamente hacia futuros procesos de paz.  Este principio de no retroactividad es fundamental para brindar seguridad jurídica.

Confiamos que en el marco de la nueva legislatura del Congreso que inicia la próxima semana los temas relacionados con la implementación de la paz sean discutidos respetando la esencia del Acuerdo y a través de un diálogo incluyente.  En este sentido, permítame reiterar el llamado del Secretario General a que los colombianos y colombianas se centren en lo que los une y no en lo que los divide.

Asimismo, Señor Presidente, reiterar que una paz verdaderamente sostenible requiere avances complementarios en todos los componentes del Acuerdo Final, incluyendo la reforma rural integral, la sustitución de cultivos ilícitos, las garantías de seguridad, la reincorporación de excombatientes, y la justicia y reparación para las víctimas. 

Mr. President, Distinguished Members of the Council,

The Peace Agreement has resulted in thousands of lives saved, generated opportunities for victims and their families to obtain healing and justice, and for economic development for vast stretches of the country that were ravaged by war for decades.  As you heard repeatedly in the visit, the Council’s steadfast and unified support has been critical to these achievements, and the Colombian people and institutions are deeply grateful to the Security Council.  The Colombian peace process is an outstanding example of how much support the United Nations can provide when the Council is firmly united.  Your continued commitment is needed to help Colombia secure the peace.

Muchas Gracias Señor Presidente.



Download the Report of the Secretary-General on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. S/2019/530