What's In Blue

Posted Thu 18 Jul 2019

Colombia Meeting

Tomorrow (19 July), the Security Council will hold two meetings on the situation in Colombia. First, the Council will receive a briefing from Peru and the UK, which co-led an 11-14 July visiting mission to Colombia. (Click here for background on the visiting mission, as well as our dispatches from Bogotá and Cauca.) Afterwards, the Council will receive a briefing from Carlos Ruiz Massieu, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, on the mission’s work. The Foreign Minister of Peru, Néstor Popolizio, will chair the second meeting and the Foreign Minister of Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, is expected to participate. The briefing will be followed by consultations.  A press statement is likely to be adopted after the meeting.

The briefing by Ruiz Massieu is expected to focus on the 27 June report of the Secretary-General (S/2019/530) and the implementation of the mandate of the Mission, which includes the verification of two sections of the November 2016 Peace Agreement, namely on the reintegration of former combatants, and security guarantees. The security situation in Colombia is likely to feature prominently in the discussion, given the continuing trend of attacks against social leaders and former combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). According to the report, the mission has verified 123 killings, ten disappearances and 17 attempted homicides of former FARC-EP members over the last eighteen months. Furthermore, attacks against social leaders and human rights defenders persist; according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Colombia, 230 such killings have been verified since the signing of the Peace Agreement. Council members are expected to emphasise the need to improve security guarantees as a critical element in rebuilding the trust in the state for communities and former combatants. A core issue, according to the Secretary-General’s report, remains the expansion of a comprehensive and effective state presence, including civilian and security institutions, in remote and historically neglected areas that can contribute to addressing the current security vacuum.

Council members may be interested in discussing developments regarding reintegration. They are expected to discuss the decision by the Colombian government to extend arrangements regarding the sustainability of the Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration (TATRs) past their scheduled expiration in August. They are likely to be interested in efforts to scale up ex-combatants’ involvement in productive projects. Council members may also inquire about the situation of former combatants living outside of the TATRs, who now number more than 8,000, and what the government and the Mission are doing to support this population.

Transitional justice continues to be a polarising element of the Peace Agreement, even after the statutory law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) was finally signed into law by President Iván Duque on 6 June. Council members are likely to reiterate the importance of preserving the autonomy and independence of this mechanism. During their visit, Council members heard concerns from the heads of the three components of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition (the SJP, the Truth Commission, and the Unit for the Search for Persons deemed Missing in the Context of and Due to the Armed Conflict) about a proposed 30 percent cut in their budgets, as part of the government’s cost-saving measures. Some Council members may emphasise the importance of ensuring that the Comprehensive System receives adequate financial resources.

The Secretary-General has continuously emphasised that the Peace Agreement needs to be addressed holistically as “a package of mutually-reinforcing commitments”. Council members can be expected to encourage progress in other areas, including agrarian reform and crop substitution, which remain critical to the implementation of the Peace Agreement. Looking ahead, Council members are likely to ask Ruiz Massieu about the impact that polarisation and insecurity can have on the local and departmental elections that are to be held in October.

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