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Statement to the Security Council by Carlos Ruiz Massieu, special representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia

  • Posted by: ONU Colombia

Sr. Presidente,

Distinguidos miembros del Consejo de Seguridad, Estoy muy complacido por esta oportunidad de dirigirme a ustedes, por primera vez, con ocasión de su consideración del informe del Secretario General sobre la Misión de Verificación de Naciones Unidas en Colombia. Saludo la participación en esta reunión del Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Colombia, Sr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo, y del Alto Consejero para el Posconjlicto, Sr. Emilio Archila. Aprovecho para expresar mi gratitud por el cálido recibimiento que he tenido en su país.

Mr. President,

The tragic events of late last week in Bogotá remind us once again of the urgency of ending violence and persevering in efforts to ensure a more peaceful future for all Colombians.
Both the Council and the Secretary-General delivered a strong and clear condemnation of the car bombing at the General Santander Poli ce Academy on 17 J anuary that left 21 dead and dozens
injured. On 21 January, the National Liberation Army (the ELN) acknowledged responsibility for this attack.

In the swift rejection of the attack from across the political spectrum in Colombia, and in the marches held around the country this past Sunday, Colombians demonstrated their ever-broader
consensus around the rejection of violence that has been highlighted in the reports of the Secretary-General as one of the fruits of peace. This consensus must continue to be nurtured.

Mr. President,
Since taking up my duties on 7 January, I have met with key interlocutors for the Mission, including from the Colombian Government, the F ARC, civil society and the intemational
community.

I held productive initial meetings with President Duque, Foreign Minister Trujillo, High Counsellor Archila, and High Commissioner for Peace Miguel Ceballos.
I also met with F ARC leaders in Bogotá and visited two of the Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration in the departments of Antioquia and Caquetá. These visits confirrned both the
strong desire offorrner combatants to work and to find their place in society, as well as the uncertainty many still feel regarding their security, including their legal security, and economic
future.

I held discussions with civil society representatives, including women’s organisations, and with the presidents ofboth the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Truth Commission, all ofwhom
stressed their commitment to the peace process and their appreciation for the work of the Mission.

In my meetings with the Resident Coordinator and members ofthe UN Country Team, we discussed the importance oftheir partnership with the Mission on reintegration and legal and
security guarantees, as well as their complementary support to the implementation of agreements on rural development, political participation, transitional justice and voluntary substitution of
illicit crops. Discussions also touched on ongoing cooperation on cross-cutting dimensions of gender, ethnic affairs, child protection and youth.

Mr. President,
I am pleased to report that the Government’s High-level Forum on Gender, responsible for implementation of the gender provisions of the Peace Agreement, met for the first time on 16
January.
The inauguration ofthe Truth Commission, which now embarks on a three-year mandate to foster truth and reconciliation, represents an important milestone.

Forces in the context of extrajudicial killings. Two days ago, it announced that 31 rnernbers of the F ARC leadership will also be required to appear,
in person, to provide their testirnony on individual and collective responsibility for kidnappings.
As this Council has itself insisted, it rernains vitally irnportant that the independence and autonorny of the Special Jurisdiction are respected and that it receives the support required to
operate effectively.

Mr. President,
Turning to the econornic reintegration offormer FARC-EP rnernbers, I welcorne the approval of additional productive projects by theNational Reintegration Council and advances in
disbursernents for these projects. The challenges ahead, as noted in the report and confirmed inrny first discussions and field visits, is to further accelerate such efforts and, to ensure their
sustainability, to advance on the acquisition of land and to work on the developrnent of rnarkets for goods and services produced, including with the participa~ion of local governrnents and the
private sector.

I welcorne the Governrnent’ s decision in Decernber to extend food distribution to former cornbatants in the Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration (TATRs) for an additional
eight rnonths. This assistance, as well as current health and education services and the provision ofbasic rnonthly payrnents to all former FARC-EP rnernbers, are set to expire in August.
A near-term challenge is to define the status ofthe 24 Territorial Areas, whose current authorization, due to expire on 15 August, is a rnatter of concern and uncertainty for the
thousands offormer FARC-EP inhabiting these spaces. I welcorne Mr. Archila’s recent public rernarks reassuring those in the reintegration process that a solution will be found, building on a
current census ofthose living and working in these areas. It will require a concerted effort to work through the legal, financia! and other irnplications and to arrive at an agreed set of proposals. Therefore, tirne is of the essence to arrive at an agreed way forward.

Regarding política! reintegration, on 27 October the F ARC party will participate for the first time in regional and local elections, marking another advance in their political participation.

To ensure the security ofthe FARC to undertake política! activities at the local leve! during the coming elections, the Technical Cornrnittee on Security and Protection has begun work on a
protection plan.

Colombia’s presidential elections in 2018 were the most peaceful in decades. To ensure similar conditions prevail in this year’ s elections and given specific concems with regard to the F ARC
party, comprehensive prevention and protection measures will be needed to ensure safety for candidates of all parties as well as cornrnunities and their leaders.

Mr. President,
A wave ofkillings of social leaders in the very first days ofthe new year reinforce the deep concems about these killings expressed by the Secretary-General in his report and which the
Council has also expressed repeatedly. Seven leaders (six men and one woman) were killed in the first seven days of J anuary and a total of 31 attacks in ten departments were reported sin ce
the publication of the report.

According to investigations by the Office of the Attomey General, three-quarters of these killings are being cornrnitted by criminal and illegal arrned groups. Leaders being targeted
include members of Local Action Boards, leaders involved in land reclarnation processes, leaders active in the voluntary crop substitution prograrnrne, and leaders of indigenous cornrnunities.
President Duque has expressed his personal cornrnitment to addressing this issue. The Govemrnent has indicated thatit has activated its Action Plan on protection ofleaders in specific
departments. The Ministers ofDefence and Interior and the High Cornrnissioner for Peace have been charged with identifying additional actions required. The Inspector General has called for
implementation of a series of cornrnitments in the Pact for Life and for the Protection of Social Leaders and Human Rights Defenders endorsed by the Govemrnent and civil society
representatives in August. I urge that these measures be implemented swiftly and coupled with broader efforts to ensure an eff ective State presence in these areas.

I welcome President Duque’s decision to convene the National Cornrnission on Security Guarantees on 30 January, as it is entrusted to define a strategy to dismantle criminal and illegal arrned groups, with the participation of civil society.

In addition to the fourteen F ARC members killed during the period covered by the SecretaryGeneral’s report, two more have been killed this year. A total of 87 have been killed since the
Peace Agreement was signed. This underscores the importance of the provision of effective security for new settlements outside the TATRs, which is where the vast majority ofthese killings have taken place.

Mr. President,
The security of communities, leaders and F ARC members are ultimately tied to the ability of the State to establish an integrated security and civilian presence in conflict-affected areas.
The Government’s “Peace with Legality” plan provides a roadmap for achieving this important objective. It builds on the 16 Development Plans with a Territorial Focus agreed under the Peace
Agreement and links them more clearly to assistance to nearly 100,000 families under the voluntary crop substitution programme and to the reintegration of former F ARC-EP members.

As stated by the Secretary-General, what is now urgently required is the translation of this and other plans into effective actions that change the realities on the ground.

Mr. President,
Distinguished members of the Council, Befare concluding, I would like to pay tribute to the important contributions over the past three and a half years of my predecessor, J ean Arnault. I add my words of appreciation to those I have heard from so many Colombians for the important role he has played in the peace process.

I would like to stress that one of the messages I have heard consistently from Colombians during my first weeks on the ground is how strongly they both welcome and expect the support and
accompaniment of the intemational community as they seek to overcome the man y challenges to consolidating peace.

The continued engagement and support of the Security Council will remain a vital pillar of Colombia’ s peace process. I assure you of the commitment of the Mission to carry forward the tasks you have entrusted to it.

Thank you.

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