Speakers Laud Progress Made by Government, including on Implementing Peace Accord.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2673 (2023), the Security Council today decided that the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia shall monitor the implementation of certain provisions of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace relating to rural reform and ethnic perspectives.
Further by that text (to be issued as document S/RES/2673), the Council decided that, the Mission shall monitor the implementation of section 1 and section 6.2 of the Final Agreement as set out in the Secretary-General’s letter (document S/2022/940) in addition to the provisions in the Verification Mission’s existing mandate, as set out in resolution 2655 (2022).
The Council also expressed its willingness to continue working with the Government of Colombia on the Verification Mission’s mandate on the basis of agreement between the parties.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, highlighted steps taken in the last few months regarding the comprehensive rural reform such as the agreement on purchase of land and the increase in the budgets for agriculture.
“Rural reform is clearly moving to the centre of efforts to build a more peaceful and prosperous Colombia,” he declared. Condemning ongoing violence against communities and social leaders as well as the former leaders of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), he pointed to his Government’s “total peace” policy coupled with a new human-security approach.
He also reported that the first round of peace dialogues between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) is widely supported in Colombian society, especially by conflict-affected communities. The new year began with the President of Colombia announcing that there would be six-month ceasefires with several illegal armed actors, he recalled, noting that — if successful — the Government’s differentiated dialogues with the groups aimed at ending the violence “would greatly contribute to generate the security conditions necessary for the different provisions of the final peace agreement to materialize”.
Also briefing the Council, Armando Wouriyu Valbuena, Secretary, Special High-Level Body on Ethnic Peoples of Colombia, and a member of the Indigenous Wayuu people, welcomed the extension of the mandate to the ethnic chapter. To be “a third actor at the table” is unparalleled, he said, recalling the genocide and slavery that his people suffered and describing the Final Agreement as an attempt to transform this reality. “For centuries we have lived in a State that does not see us,” he asserted, calling for guarantees of self-determination to ensure economic sovereignty. He also highlighted the importance of including ethnic communities in the Verification Mission’s mandate.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers welcomed the encouraging progress made by the Colombian Government, including the implementation of the Final Agreement, particularly the Government’s prioritization of provisions concerning ethnicity, gender and rural reform, as well as the current negotiations under way with ELN as well as with other armed groups. However, numerous speakers expressed concern about continuing violence against civilians, former combatants and political and community leaders.
Describing Colombia as “an example to the world of the transformative potential of dialogue and leadership”, the representative of the United Kingdom welcomed Government-led efforts to secure a ceasefire and alleviate the suffering of conflict-affected populations.
Along similar lines, the representative of the United States said “all victims of Colombia’s conflict deserve justice”. Condemning any actions that threaten the peace process, she expressed support for the ongoing transitional justice process. However, obstacles to peace persist in Colombia, she warned, noting that drug production continues to fuel violence in conflict-affected areas and — as reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) — coca cultivation reached record levels in 2021.
For his part, the representative of the Russian Federation stressed that the new Colombian authorities — over six months — have done more for reconciliation in the country than the previous Administration in the past four years. Highlighting progress in agrarian reform, integrating ex-combatants, and promoting legislative initiatives to ensure the legal foundation of the peacebuilding process, he said “a great deal of work remains to be done”, including restoration of relations with Venezuela. Normalization of relations between Colombia and Venezuela will contribute to resolving the migration situation in the region, strengthening border control and countering transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, he stressed.
On that note, the representative of Ecuador — a country with longstanding history of bilateral cooperation with Colombia — spotlighted current efforts to address challenges along the common border and to combat transnational organized crime. Underlining the relevancy of agrarian reform and access to land for a peaceful Colombia, he welcomed the greater emphasis on participation of women in the peace process.
Rounding out the discussion, Francia Márquez Mina, Vice-President of Colombia, said the international community’s political, technical and financial support made it possible to advance implementation of the Final Agreement even when political will was insufficient. The Government’s commitment to guarantee the life of every single citizen will not be possible unless armed conflict is de-escalated and criminal structures that perpetuate violence are dismantled. Citing unequal access to land and neglect of rural populations as driving forces for the war, she pointed to her Government’s policy of distribution of 3 million hectares of productive land for agricultural development.
Outlining other measures undertaken by her Government, she said on 4 January, legislation was signed creating the Ministry of Equality and Equity — the foundation for “total peace”, which encompasses implementation of the Final Agreement, dialogue with groups and addressing inequality. Further, she continued, the Government has been designing racial-justice policies to bridge gaps in equity by establishing ethnic and territorial rights for ethnic communities, who have disproportionately experienced the effects of armed conflict and structural racism.
Also speaking were representatives of Brazil, Gabon (also speaking for Ghana and Mozambique), China, Switzerland, France, Malta, Albania, United Arab Emirates and Japan.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 16:55 p.m.