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Department of Political Affairs

Central America

Guatemala children

The United Nations was deeply involved in the search for peace in Central America, whose armed conflicts were brought to end in the 1990s. UN observers monitored the 1990 elections in Nicaragua. UN envoys helped forge landmark peace agreements in El Salvador and Guatemala, and in both countries UN field missions managed by the Department of Political Affairs verified the implementation of the accords.

In a region confronting a different set of challenges today, DPA remains engaged. The Department supports the work of UN Country Teams in Central America by providing political and policy guidance as appropriate. DPA provided political guidance to the Secretary-General and the UN system in the aftermath of the 2009 coup in Honduras.

At the sub-regional level, DPA follows closely efforts by the Central American Integration System (SICA) to address public security, drug trafficking and organized crime, relying on the technical assistance and expertise of the UN system, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ( UNODC ). 

DPA supports and backstops the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala ( CICIG ), an independent, international body established with DPA assistance in 2007 in response to a request from the Guatemalan Government.  Through its investigations and joint work with Guatemalan counterparts, CICIG has transferred capacities and knowledge to national institutions, promoted key legal reforms, and helped demonstrate that complex criminal investigations can be carried out to break long-standing patterns of impunity.

In January 2015, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a “message of hope” on his first ever visit to Honduras. He noted that while the country had emerged from recent political turbulence and made substantial progress towards meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs ), poverty, inequality, gang violence, insecurity and impunity remain major obstacles.

Mr. Ban also reiterated his deep concern about the plight of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America who make the long journey to North America. Although the number of returned children has decreased since the summer of 2014, there remains a need to address the situation of minors currently in transit or detention. He has said the UN stands ready to support regional efforts to address security, including facilitating the exchange of best practices on how to prevent violence and crime, stem youth violence, promote the social reintegration of offenders and strengthen institutions.
 
During that trip, he also visited El Salvador to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of peace accords that ended a 12-year civil war in that country.