What's In Blue

Consultations on the UN Mission in Colombia

Tomorrow morning (26 August), Security Council members will be briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission in Colombia, Jean Arnault. The meeting comes after yesterday’s announcement that the Colombian Government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) had reached a final peace agreement aimed at ending six decades of conflict in the country. Arnault is expected to present Council members with the recommendations included in a 18 August report of the Secretary-General on the size, operational aspects and mandate of the UN Mission in Colombia (S/2016/729).

This will be the first Council discussion on Colombia since the adoption on 25 January of resolution 2261, which established the UN Mission in Colombia with a mandate to monitor and verify the laying down of arms, and to coordinate a tripartite mechanism to monitor and verify the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. There has been little movement on this issue in the Council as it was not until 23 June that the agreement on the bilateral and definitive ceasefire and cessation of hostilities and laying down of arms was reached by the parties. Arnault is likely to brief Council members on the steps taken on the ground to implement resolution 2261, including the protocols negotiated by the parties to govern the work of the tripartite Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) that will observe the ceasefire; as well as the tight timeframe foreseen by the agreement for the verification of the laying down of arms. On this latter issue, Arnault is expected to brief Council members on the 8-15 August visits by tripartite delegations to transitional local zones and points for normalisation where the separation of forces and the laying down of arms are to take place.

Council members might want to discuss with Arnault some of the issues that the Secretary-General raises in his report as outstanding, including the funding of facilities and services used by the members of the MVM. Also, in his report the Secretary-General stressed how both the ceasefire and laying down of arms are “part of a longer term process whose sustainability is conditional upon a reliable programme of reintegration for FARC-EP combatants”. In the final peace agreement signed yesterday, the parties agreed (point 6.2.3.) to ask the UN to deploy a second political mission with a mandate to verify the reintegration of ex-combatants as well as the provisions in the agreement that refer to their protection, particularly from paramilitary groups. According to the agreement, this mission, which would be deployed after the current mandate of the UN Mission in Colombia ends, would have a three-year duration. Council members might want to hear Arnault’s assessment of the sequencing for this second mission, and whether the UN would be in a position to deliver such a mandate. Council members could also ask Arnault to elaborate on the role and relationship of the mission vis-á-vis human rights, a point highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report.

Since this was one of the issues raised in the negotiations of resolution 2261, Council members might be interested in the Secretariat’s efforts to generate observers and the timing for their deployment.

It is unclear how Council members are planning to respond to the recommendations of the Secretary-General regarding the size of the mission: about 450 observers and an appropriate civilian component deployed in 40 locations. Whereas some Council members have expressed their willingness to adopt a second resolution incorporating the details regarding the mandate of the UN Mission in Colombia that were not known when resolution 2261 was adopted in January, other Council members prefer not to reopen discussions on the details of the mission, and see an exchange of letters to take note of the Secretary-General’s recommendations as an appropriate reaction to the report. Some members may ask Arnault’s opinion about which option might better support the mission’s work.

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