posted on Wed 9 Oct 2019 5:24 PM
Colombia Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow morning (10 October), the Security Council will receive a briefing on Colombia from Special Representative of the Secretary-General Carlos Ruiz Massieu on the 90-day report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia (covering developments from 27 June through 26 September). The briefing is expected to be followed by consultations.

Background

The Council renewed the mandate of the mission until 25 September 2020 with the unanimous adoption of resolution 2487 on 12 September. The verification mission was established in accordance with the 2016 Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace between the government of Colombia and the rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), in which the parties, in recognition of the importance of having an international component to the verification process, decided to ask the UN to set up a political mission. The agreement stipulated an initial three-year duration for the mission, “renewable if necessary”. With the adoption of resolution 2487, the mission entered its third year. In the resolution, the Council signalled its willingness to work with the government of Colombia to extend the mission beyond 2020, should the parties desire. The mandate of the mission has remained unchanged and consists of the verification of aspects of the peace agreement related to the political, economic and social reincorporation of the FARC-EP; personal and collective security guarantees; and comprehensive programmes of security and protection measures for communities and organisations in conflict-affected areas.

The Council has been united in its support of the peace process and is aware that the parties and Colombian society in general appreciate the importance of the verification mission as the international component of the verification process. In this regard, the Council has consistently signalled its support and attention through the unanimous adoption of resolutions, two visiting missions (in 2017 and last July), and press statements following the 90-day briefings.

The press statements have also served to signal concerns about some aspects of the implementation of the peace agreement and worrying developments and trends in the country. The Council’s most recent press statement expressed serious concerns about continued killings of former FARC-EP combatants, human rights defenders, and social leaders. It underscored the need for concrete measures to bring those responsible to justice and prevent further attacks, including in the context of local elections to be held later in October. It also reiterated the importance of implementing the agreement as an interlocking set of commitments.

Secretary-General’s Report and Tomorrow’s Meetings

The Secretary-General’s 1 October report (S/2019/780) provides a mixed picture. In many ways, it reflects concerns that members have expressed in the recent press statements about the uneven implementation of the peace agreement. The report  acknowledges advances in the accord’s implementation by the administration of President Iván Duque during its first year–in particular, in the reintegration of former combatants through territorial areas for training and reintegration (TATR) and the establishment of productive projects­–but stresses that “these welcome efforts should go hand in hand with additional progress in the implementation of the other aspects of the agreement”. It concludes that greater efforts on the part of all involved are needed “to deliver on commitments made to victims, conflict-affected communities and former combatants”.

In his briefing, Ruiz Massieu may discuss human rights violations and high levels of violence in several parts of the country, issues that have been of concern to Council members in recent months. During the period covered by the report, targeted homicides have remained at an alarming level. The mission has verified 24 killings of former FARC-EP combatants. Social leaders and human rights defenders have continued to be attacked as well, with additional violence related to the local elections, to be held on 27 October. Citing data provided by the non-governmental Electoral Observation Mission, the report states that there were 54 incidents of electoral violence since the closing of the registration of candidates on 27 July, including seven killings, five attacks, two kidnappings and 40 threats.

The difficult security situation in the Cauca department, an area visited by the Council in July, may be discussed in tomorrow’s meeting. During the 13 July visit, some interlocutors saw the visit as a sign that security was improving and stressed that only a year earlier such a visit would have been impossible. However, since the visit, the violence in Cauca appears to have reached very high levels. According to the Secretary-General’s report, 19 people were killed in the Cauca department over the four-day period from 30 August to 2 September. There have also been numerous attacks against the indigenous Nasa community. The Secretary-General’s report attributes these attacks to clashes between criminal organisations over territorial control, with six Nasa leaders and five other community members killed during the 90-day period covered.

In tomorrow’s meeting, Council members are likely to want to hear more details about the continuing violence, in particular in areas they visited in July and with respect to communities with whom they interacted during their visit, including the Nasa representatives and members who attended a large event with Council members and government representatives in the Santa Rosa TATR.

Among other key developments, the 29 August video announcement by two former leaders of the FARC-EP, Luciano Marín (known as Iván Márquez, one of the chief negotiators of the agreement) and Seuxis Pausías Hernández (known as Jesús Santrich), of a “new phase of armed struggle” in Colombia is also likely to figure in the discussion tomorrow. The Secretary-General’s report stresses that the message “was swiftly and emphatically rejected by all sectors of society”. President Duque condemned the announcement and the political party of former combatants, Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común, rejected it immediately, reaffirmed its commitment to the agreement and started proceedings to expel those appearing in the video from its ranks, according to the report. During the briefing tomorrow, members are likely to be eager to hear more about the repercussions and potential impact of the FARC dissidents’ video announcement.

As has been the practice with respect to previous 90-day briefings, Council members are likely to issue a press statement following tomorrow’s meetings.