What's In Blue

Posted Thu 28 Oct 2021

Colombia: Vote on a Resolution Renewing the Verification Mission’s Mandate*

Tomorrow (29 October), Security Council members are expected to vote on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia until 31 October 2022. The UK, the penholder on Colombia, presented the draft text jointly with Mexico, which also cooperated with the penholder on a press statement on Colombia in July.

The draft text in blue renews the mandate of the verification mission for a period of one year. It does so without making any changes to the core mandate of the mission that was set out in the November 2016 Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace between the government of Colombia and the former rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP). The mission’s mandate focuses on verifying aspects of the agreement related to the political, economic and social reincorporation of former FARC-EP combatants and personal and collective security guarantees, including comprehensive security programmes and protection measures for communities and organisations in conflict-affected areas.

Earlier this year, the Council expanded the verification mission’s mandate through resolution 2574 of 11 May to include monitoring compliance with the sentences handed down by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP), the judicial component of the transitional justice system established by the 2016 agreement. The draft text in blue takes note of the expansion of the mandate and welcomes the preparatory work carried out by the verification mission in cooperation with the SJP ahead of undertaking this new task. (The SJP is expected to begin handing down its sentences by early 2022.)

The draft resolution in blue is a short text, which contains only minor new additions in its preambular part in comparison to resolution 2574. These include references to the upcoming anniversary of the November 2016 peace agreement. The Council welcomes the progress towards peace in Colombia since the adoption of the agreement. It urges the parties to build upon this progress and address ongoing challenges—including the continued violence in conflict-affected areas—through the comprehensive implementation of the peace agreement.

Council members are united in their support for the peace process in Colombia and for the work of the verification mission. As such, the negotiations on the content of the resolution between all Council members apparently went smoothly. The UK and Mexico circulated a zero draft on Monday (25 October) afternoon and asked Council members to send written comments on the text. The draft text was then placed under silence on Tuesday (26 October) until the following day (27 October). The “A3 plus one” Council members (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) subsequently broke silence, noting that their suggestions were not addressed. An amended draft was then placed under silence procedure on Wednesday (28 October)— which it passed this morning (28 October)— and was subsequently placed in blue.

It seems that the “A3 plus one” requested additional language to reflect the ethnic and gender provisions of the peace agreement, as well as the countering of illicit drugs including through crop substitution programmes, in reference to the agreement’s comprehensive implementation. China and Russia apparently expressed support for the language proposed by the “A3 plus one”. While there is agreement in the Council on the importance of these provisions, it seems that the co-authors (the UK and Mexico) preferred a short resolution without many additions. However, following the silence break by the “A3 plus one”, the text was amended to reflect their proposed amendment.

It seems that the zero draft of the resolution was circulated to all Council members later than initially expected, thus leaving a short period for negotiations ahead of the verification mission’s 31 October expiry. The delay was apparently a result of a difference of view between the UK and Mexico about the co-authoring of the draft resolution.

It seems that Mexico has sought to play an active role on Colombia and Haiti, both of which are priority portfolios for Mexico City. For example, it co-authored resolution 2600 of 15 October, which most recently renewed the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), together with the US, the penholder on Haiti.

Mexico also cooperated with the UK in drafting the 16 July press statement on Colombia, which was issued following the July quarterly meeting. (Since 2018, it has been the practice for Council members to issue a press statement following the quarterly Council meeting on Colombia.) It seems, however, that the UK and Mexico diverged on whether they would cooperate on subsequent Council products on this portfolio. Following the Council’s latest quarterly meeting on Colombia, which took place on 14 October, the UK and Mexico each circulated a draft press statement to Council members. It appears that the disagreement between the two members did not center on the content of the press statement, but rather on whether their cooperation on Council products on Colombia should become established practice. At the time of writing, it was unclear whether Council members will issue a press statement following October’s quarterly meeting.

While the UK and Mexico ultimately agreed to co-author the draft to be voted on tomorrow, it is currently uncertain whether they will cooperate on future Council products on Colombia.

*Post-script: On 29 October, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2603, renewing the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia for another year, until 31 October 2022.