posted on Fri 7 Jul 2017 1:51 PM
Colombia: Adoption of a Resolution Authorising a New Mission

On (Monday) 10 July, the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution authorising the UN Verification Mission in Colombia (the Verification Mission), a successor mission to the current UN Mission in Colombia. The draft was discussed during consultations on 30 June and one round of negotiations was held on 5 July. It passed through silence on 6 July. The negotiations were straightforward, reflecting the Council’s unity on this issue.

The request for a successor political mission to the UN Mission in Colombia was incorporated in the November 2016 “Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace” between the government of Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) under item 6.3.3. While the agreement specifies that the mission is to be authorised by the UN General Assembly, the parties decided to make their request to the Security Council, as they did with the first political mission. A 5 June letter (S/2017/481) to the Council and the Secretary-General from Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón conveyed the request of the parties to establish the Verification Mission and outlined the envisioned elements of the new mandate, which are in accordance with the agreement.

The draft resolution incorporates these elements. The new political mission is expected to verify implementation of several measures of the Final Agreement. These include political, economic and social reincorporation of the FARC-EP; personal and collective security guarantees; and comprehensive programmes on security and protection measures for communities and organisations in conflict-affected areas.

According to the draft resolution, the Verification Mission is expected to receive an initial authorisation of 12 months, starting on 26 September 2017, immediately following the completion of the UN Mission in Colombia. The current mission is responsible for monitoring and verifying the laying down of arms and the bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities between the government of Colombia and the FARC-EP. The draft resolution calls on the UN Mission in Colombia to start “provisional work anticipated by the Verification Mission…within its current configuration and capacity” up until the time its mandate ends on 25 September. This is in keeping with the Secretary-General’s recent report on Colombia in which he observed that: “the current Mission is in a position…to initiate some tasks of the second mandate on a provisional basis to satisfy the request of the parties to move forward the verification tasks to coincide with the start of the reintegration process” (S/2017/539).

The draft resolution requests the Secretary General “to initiate preparations now, including on the ground, and to present detailed recommendations to the Security Council for its consideration and approval regarding the size and operational aspects and mandate of the Verification Mission…within 45 days” of the resolution’s adoption. Such a two-step mandating process is consistent with the recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. It is also consistent with what the Council did when it adopted resolution 2261 of 25 January 2016, which established the UN Mission in Colombia and requested the Secretary-General to present detailed recommendations regarding the size, operational aspects, and mandate of the mission.

Planning for a second political mission in Colombia was discussed during the Council’s 3-5 May visiting mission to Colombia. In meetings with Council members, several Colombian congresspersons highlighted the importance of starting the planning now for the second mission in order to avoid any gaps between the two mandates. The sense of urgency was echoed by the representatives of the FARC-EP. Civil society members suggested that the successor mission should deploy a strong field presence throughout Colombia and be given a mandate to monitor the implementation of the commitments in the agreement regarding human rights and women’s participation.

Although the Council was not involved in the process that led to the November 2016 peace agreement, it has been united in supporting the verification of key measures within the agreement. During the visiting mission, Council members repeatedly expressed the view that the Colombian peace process provides a positive example to countries around the world and indicated that the challenges it faces are common to the implementation of any peace agreement.