9555th Meeting (AM)

Reporting on Security Council’s Visiting Mission to Colombia, Delegates Assess Progress in Building Peace, Ensuring Transitional Justice

Focus on Challenges to Implementing Historic Peace Accord’s Ethnic, Rural Chapters, Amnesty Requests by Former Combatants

Applauding Colombia’s firm commitment to the 2016 historic peace accords, Security Council members today took measure of the demands of building peace and ensuring transitional justice in that country as observed during their recent visit.

The Council visiting mission was in Colombia from 7 to 11 February at the invitation of its Government.  The representative of Guyana, Council President for February, who led the visit along with the representatives of United Kingdom and Switzerland, noted that it was an opportunity to assess the challenges and opportunities facing the implementation of the Final Agreement to End the Armed Conflict and Build a Stable and Lasting Peace, between Colombia’s Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).  Their delegation met with the President of the country, its Vice-President, key peace signatories, civil society representatives and the United Nations country team, among others, she said.

Highlighting the strong political will of the Colombian leadership, she said that President Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego expressed concerns about the large number of former combatants, as well as pending amnesty requests.  Non-compliance with the Agreement, coupled with the absence of the State, may result in those territories returning to conflict.  He also noted the historical inequalities and divides between the centre and periphery and expressed commitment to an equitable distribution of resources.  Other stakeholders expressed concern about the pace and implementation of the accord and highlighted the need for electoral reforms, reparations for victims and land reform.  They also called for implementing its Rural and Ethnic Chapters, she said.

During the delegation’s interactive exchanges with civil society organizations, she added, they underscored the importance of robust State presence in all territories, dialogue with victims and tackling the drug trade.  Recalling the field visit to Buenaventura, a predominantly Afro-Colombian city, she noted that this was in the company of Vice-President Francia Márquez, the first Afro-Colombian woman to hold that post.  Leaders from Buenaventura’s communities called for stronger coordination between national and local authorities and also demanded a greater voice in decision-making processes, she said.

“Five years ago,” the representative of the United Kingdom pointed out, “the Council was unable to meet a female community leader [from Buenaventura] because of fears for her security, and this time, that very same leader — who is now the Vice President — accompanied us to her region.”  This demonstrates the transformation under way in Colombia, she said, adding that the visit was an opportunity for Council members to focus on the Ethnic Chapter and to hear first hand from those whose daily work focuses on building peace at local levels.  “Everywhere we saw the UN Verification Mission, UN agencies, Colombian Government, communities and individuals working together to build sustainable peace,” she said.

Earlier this month, the Government and the nation’s largest remaining rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), extended by six months a bilateral ceasefire that began last year.

On the Council’s meeting with the High Commissioner for Peace to discuss the Government’s vision to broaden peace through dialogue, she said it was an opportune moment, given the recent ceasefire extension, which the Mission is mandated to monitor. The High Commissioner shared his vision of territorial transformation, extending the State’s presence in rural areas and the importance of peace-delivering benefits, such as schools, health care and infrastructure.  The Council welcomed efforts to strengthen the humanitarian provisions of the ceasefires, also sharing concern about the 418 former combatants killed since the signing of the Agreement, she said.

Switzerland’s representative recalled the delegation’s 9 February visit to Agua Bonita, Caquetá, one of the most emblematic areas of the conflict between the Government and FARC-EP.  They held talks with representatives of the former Territorial Area for Training and Reintegration, she said.  While community leaders asked for more security guarantees and expressed concern about the scope and pace of investigations of the Special Justice for Peace — the transitional justice mechanism set up to ensure accountability for crimes committed before the accord’s signing — their unwavering commitment to peace was impressive.  Also highlighting the demining activities carried out by Humanicemos DH, the world's first humanitarian demining organization run by former combatants and supported by her country, she said it showed the importance of transitional justice and the need to link the laying down of arms with socioeconomic prospects.

The Council also met with women’s organizations, she said, to discuss the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Many described the risks they and their children face and the challenges of protecting human rights daily. They stressed that there should be no amnesty for sexual violence and that the prohibition of such violence and child recruitment should be minimum requirements in the current peace talks, she said.  Also observing that women’s participation in decision-making processes does not appear to be sufficiently guaranteed, despite their undeniable contribution to peacebuilding, she said that the organizations they encountered all stressed the important role of the Verification Mission.

For information media. Not an official record.