Statement by the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia on the peace process between the Government of Colombia and the ELN

1 Aug 2018

Statement by the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia on the peace process between the Government of Colombia and the ELN

Bogotá, August 1, 2018 - The United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia takes note of the Political Declaration of the National Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), including the parties' assessment that they were not able to reach full agreements on social participation and the ceasefire, but that they did traverse a very significant path.

The Mission shares the conviction expressed in the Declaration that dialogue is the best way to achieve a political solution to conflicts, as well as the certainty that, by persevering in dialogue, Colombia will achieve a complete peace sooner rather than later.

At the invitation of the negotiating table in Havana, the Head of the Verification Mission, Mr. Jean Arnault, met with the Government and ELN delegations yesterday, 31 July, after both parties had concluded that there were no conditions to be able to reach a ceasefire agreement. Mr. Arnault heard each delegation's assessment of its activities and their analysis of the challenges faced in trying to reach an agreement.

The Head of Mission noted that both parties reiterated their common interest in monitoring and verification with the participation of the Catholic Church and the UN and that, based on the experience of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism established according to the Quito Agreement, both parties also aimed to reach an agreement grounded on concrete and precise commitments, rules and protocols, which would make a successful verification possible.

At the same time, the Mission notes that this willingness reaffirmed by both parties to reach clearly-defined commitments continues to face the challenges that the Mission shared in its letter to the parties on 8 February 2018 on its assessment of temporary bilateral ceasefire based on the Quito Agreement.   These same challenges were described by the Secretary-General in his report to the Security Council on 2 April, in which he emphasized the fundamental differences regarding the definition of offensive actions, the scope of the humanitarian commitments and the role of the monitoring and verification mechanism.

Overcoming those persistent differences to achieve a robust and lasting ceasefire will be the challenge of future negotiations.  However, the need for a creative and sustained effort to achieve an ambitious ceasefire that addresses all concerns does not mean that this peace process cannot produce immediate positive effects for the population, including a reduction in violence.   On the contrary, its legitimacy cannot be sustained without these tangible benefits for communities and society.  

The United Nations remains committed to contributing to the success of this effort.