October 2018 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2018
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AMERICAS

Colombia

Expected Council Action

In October, the Council will receive a briefing from Special Representative Jean Arnault on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. Consultations are expected to follow the briefing.

The mandate of the verification mission expires on 25 September 2019.

Key Recent Developments

On 13 September, the Security Council adopted resolution 2435 renewing the mandate of the verification mission until 25 September 2019. The mission will continue to verify the implementation of sections 3.2 and 3.4 of the November 2016 Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace, as called for in its section 6.3.3. Sections 3.2 and 3.4 focus on political, economic and social reincorporation of the members of the guerrilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP); personal and collective security guarantees; and comprehensive programmes on security and protection measures for communities and organisations in conflict-affected areas.

By a letter dated 30 August, Colombian President Iván Duque conveyed a joint request for mandate extension by the government of Colombia and the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común (FARC), the political party successor to the FARC-EP. Duque, who took office on 7 August, has repeatedly expressed his commitment not to terminate the peace agreement but to propose “corrections”. The new administration aims to modify provisions related to the transitional justice mechanisms and how to deal with the cultivation of coca.

One of the divisive issues in the implementation of the agreement is the work of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP), the justice component of the transitional justice system. Centro Democrático, the political party of President Duque, had proposed amendments in the final stages of the legislative consideration of the SJP statute in June, including limiting the role of the SJP in evaluating extradition requests and barring human rights attorneys from serving as SJP magistrates, but the Constitutional Court rejected these changes on 16 August. The Court also reaffirmed that those former guerrilla members found responsible for crimes by the SJP and who have cooperated fully with the tribunal can participate in politics, including holding office.

An erosion of confidence about the future among the rank and file, the mid-level commanders and the leadership of the FARC is having a negative impact on the implementation of the agreement. In a statement on 6 September, the UN mission announced that six leaders of the FARC had abandoned the territories in the country’s southeast where they had relocated with approximately 1,500 former guerrilla members. Although the motivation for this decision remains unclear, the mission stressed that the decisions by the six leaders were a breach of their obligations under the agreement to actively contribute to ensuring the success of the reincorporation process.

Meanwhile, FARC-EP dissident groups pose a growing security challenge and have a destabilising impact on rural communities. Human rights defenders and social leaders continue to be targeted, with 121 killed in 2017, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

During a visit to New York on 23 August, Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo expressed support for the UN’s increased engagement in addressing the regional impact of the humanitarian situation in Venezuela. An estimated 1.6 million people have fled Venezuela since 2015, and an additional 1.8 million are expected to leave this year, according to UNHCR. Colombia, which has also traditionally been a destination country for Venezuelan immigrants, now hosts almost one million Venezuelan citizens. On 19 September, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration announced the appointment of Eduardo Stein as a Joint Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the region.

Key Issues and Options

An important issue is ensuring that the peace agreement is implemented in its entirety under the new administration. Council members could organise a visiting mission to Colombia to convey its unanimous support for the agreement.

The government’s ability to develop and finance a strategy for reintegrating former FARC-EP members into society and to provide safety and security in areas previously occupied by the FARC-EP remain critical issues in the successful implementation of the agreement. Council members could encourage dialogue between representatives of the government and the FARC, including through the reactivation of the commission for follow-up, impulse and verification of the implementation of the agreement (CSIVI) to address the trust deficit and discuss how the commitments made in the agreement are to be carried out in this new phase.

The current political context may mean a significant change in the role the two successive UN missions have played since the government of Colombia requested the Council’s involvement in January 2016. The present mission, with the Council’s close attention and support, could be in a position to use its leverage to sustain key provisions of the agreement at a moment of uncertainty in order to reassure Colombians about the irreversibility of the process.

Council Dynamics

Council members are unified in their support for the peace process in Colombia. This was reflected in the negotiations on the renewal of the mission’s mandate, when no Council member proposed changes to the language in the resolution. Several members have viewed engagement in Colombia as a rare bright spot for the Council as it struggles to play an effective role in several other conflict situations. However, some members have expressed concerns about the future of the agreement under the new administration.

The UK is the penholder on Colombia.

UN DOCUMENTS ON COLOMBIA
Security Council Resolutions
13 September 2018 S/RES/2435 This renewed the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.
5 October 2017 S/RES/2381 This was a resolution expanding the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.
Security Council Letter
30 August 2018 S/2018/801 This was a letter from the president Colombia to the Secretary-General, requesting the extension of the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.
Security Council Meeting Records
13 September 2018 S/PV.8351 This was the meeting at which resolution 2435 was unanimously adopted.
26 July 2018 S/PV.8319 The Council was briefed by Jean Arnault, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia