The Security Council today authorized the creation of a United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia to oversee the next phase of the 2016 peace agreement that ended half a century of fighting between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).
Unanimously adopting resolution 2366 (2017), the Council decided that the new Mission would verify implementation of sections 3.2 and 3.4 of the Final Agreement, signed in November 2016, and monitor the FARC-EP’s political, economic and social reincorporation. It would also verify implementation of personal and collective security guarantees, and comprehensive programmes on security and protection.
Headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the Mission would begin its work on 26 September 2017, immediately after the current United Nations Mission in Colombia, established on 27 January 2016 to monitor the ceasefire and laying down of arms, completed its mandate. It would also work closely with other verification bodies established by the Final Agreement.
The Council, through the text, requested the Secretary-General to initiate preparations now and to present recommendations regarding the size, operational aspects and mandate of the Verification Mission within 45 days.
In the ensuing dialogue, delegates hailed the “historic” laying down and return of arms by the FARC-EP to the United Nations for registration and storage. The ceremony, on 27 June, marked an “important milestone” which, alongside the ceasefire, had fortified confidence for achieving peace, several said.
Colombia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said the FARC-EP’s handover of individual weapons had been guaranteed by the first United Nations special mission. They had yet to finish turning over weapons hidden in caches, which should take another two months. “Little by little people begin to see the benefits of peace and are willing to give it a chance,” she said.
Nonetheless, she said, the benefits were already being felt in the countryside and rural areas, where millions of Colombians had suffered the effects of conflict much more than those living in cities. Colombia’s peace and reconciliation process was the first in the world where victims had participated in negotiations. The Revolutionary Armed Forces had also contributed their knowledge and vision to the entire Agreement.
“We are privileged to have played a role in support of this momentous period,” the United Kingdom’s representative said, stressing that sustainable peace would depend on FARC-EP’s successful incorporation into civilian life. As penholder, the United Kingdom had consulted with the parties and had confidence that “every last comma” of the peace agreement would be implemented.
For the next phase, Uruguay’s representative said, there must be a focus on parallel processes. There were benefits of having various actions aimed towards the same goal and he cited the resolution and the multi-donor fund for post-conflict in Colombia in that regard. He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to declare Colombia eligible to receive funds from the Peacebuilding Fund.
At the same time, several speakers drew attention to the long and arduous road ahead, which would include implementation of the amnesty law, Ethiopia’s delegate recalled. Those encouraging hate speech and showing disregard for reconciliation also spoke to the difficulties, Bolivia’s representative said.
Yet, peace was a process irreversible in this case, thanks to the strong resolve of President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC-EP, Italy’s delegate said. He commended Colombia for its efforts to deliver security and actions to curb organized crime. He also praised the Council for its unified, timely and context-specific action as an example of flexibility and respect for ownership of the process by the parties.
Also speaking today were representatives of the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, France, Japan, United States, Sweden, Egypt, Ukraine, Senegal and China.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:55 a.m.
The full text of resolution 2366 (2017) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming its full commitment to the Peace Process in the Republic of Colombia and recalling its resolutions 2261 and 2307 (2016),
“Welcoming the “Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace” (the Final Agreement) (S/2017/272) between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), signed in Bogotá, Colombia, on 24 November 2016, and its adoption by the Colombian Congress on 30 November 2016,
“Welcoming completion of the laying down of individual arms by FARC-EP on 27 June 2017 as verified by the United Nations Mission in Colombia established by resolution 2261 (2016),
“Acknowledging the letter dated 7 June 2017 from the President of Colombia on behalf of the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP (S/2017/481) requesting a second special political mission for a period of three years, renewable if necessary, in accordance with section 6.3.3 of the Final Agreement,
“Underlining the importance of implementation of the Final Agreement by the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP and recognising the contribution that a United Nations verification mission can make in accordance with section 6.3.3 of the Final Agreement,
“Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming further the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Colombia,
“Recognizing Colombia’s ownership of the implementation of the Final Agreement,
“1.”Decides to establish a political mission in Colombia, the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia (the Verification Mission), for an initial period of 12 months, headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations;
“2.”Decides further that the Verification Mission shall verify implementation by the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP of section 3.2 and 3.4 of the Final Agreement as called for in section 6.3.3 of the Final Agreement, including the process of political, economic and social reincorporation of the FARC-EP; the implementation of personal and collective security guarantees; and comprehensive programmes on security and protection measures for communities and organisations in the territories, and should include the required regional and local verification;
“3.”Decides also that the Verification Mission shall begin all verification activities on 26 September 2017, immediately after completion of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Colombia established by resolution 2261 (2016), and that this will commence the initial 12 month period provided for in paragraph 1;
“4.”Decides also that the Verification Mission shall work closely with the relevant verification bodies established by the Final Agreement, in particular the Commission for Follow-up, Promotion and Verification of the Implementation of the Final Agreement, the National Reincorporation Council and the National Commission for Security Guarantees;
“5.”Requests the Verification Mission to work in co-ordination with United Nations Country Team Members in Colombia in accordance with their respective mandates;
“6.”Further requests the Secretary-General to initiate preparations now, including on the ground, and to present detailed recommendations to the Security Council for its consideration and approval regarding the size and operational aspects and mandate of the Verification Mission, consistent with the Final Agreement, within 45 days of the adoption of this resolution;
“7.”Further requests the United Nations Mission in Colombia established by resolution 2261 (2016) to begin provisional work anticipated by the Verification Mission in paragraph 2 of this resolution as set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 23 June 2017 within its current configuration and capacity until the completion of its mandate on 25 September 2017;
“8.”Further requests the Secretary-General, based on the reporting of the Special Representative, to report to the Security Council on the implementation of the Verification Mission’s mandate every 90 days after the start of its verification activities;
“9.”Expresses its willingness to work with the Government of Colombia to extend the mandate of the Verification Mission on the basis of agreement between the parties.”
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) welcomed the Council’s quick actions in establishing a second mission to accompany the next phase of Colombia’s peace process. The extraordinary journey travelled since the creation of the first mission in January 2016 had culminated on 27 June 2017 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) laying down their weapons. “We are privileged to have played a role in support of this momentous period,” he said, stressing that sustainable peace would depend on FARC-EP’s successful incorporation into civilian life. As penholder, the United Kingdom had consulted with the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and following the President’s visit, had confidence that “every last comma” of the peace agreement would be implemented. FARC-EP also had stated it looked forward to the Council continuing support in the coming months and years. Stressing that Colombia offered a “beacon of hope” for the world, she said that in too many places, “war is the norm and peace remains a distant dream”. Thanks in part to the Council’s unity, Colombia was demonstrating that peace was possible.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said the resolution demonstrated the Council’s unshakable commitment to the peace process and recognition of the tenacious will of both the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces to achieve a stable peace. They had shown a commitment to peace, and trust in the United Nations by requesting fresh support on the political, economic and social reintegration of FARC-EP into society, implementation of personal and collective measures, and programmes for security and protection. Colombia’s achievements had been on display in June with the laying down of arms ceremony. For the next phase, there must be a focus on parallel processes, he said, stressing the positive nature of having different actions aimed towards the same goal, and citing both the resolution and the multi-donor fund for post-conflict in Colombia in that regard. He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to declare Colombia eligible to receive funds from the Peacebuilding Fund.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said today’s resolution symbolized a new step on the path to consolidating peace in Colombia thanks to the efforts of the country’s people. He noted the coordinating role of the United Nations and several other States. With today’s unanimous adoption of the text, all parties participating in the process could look to tomorrow knowing that the international community would continue to provide its support. The current mandate of the United Nations Mission in Colombia would continue as planned until September. In a step by step fashion, the Mission would then conduct monitoring aspects which would help with the transition. He hoped all parties would work in good faith to implement the existing agreements that aimed to achieve a stable peace and post conflict development.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said the unanimous adoption of the text today demonstrated the Council’s confidence in the historic peace agreement reached in Colombia. The agreement must continue to be implemented, he added, welcoming the measures that involve socioeconomic transformations for Colombia. Following the implementation of the first part of the agreement, Colombia was now entering a new chapter. The country was setting a fine example of what could be achieved when there was political commitment and the good will of the people.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) called the new mission a vital step in the establishment of sustainable peace in Colombia and welcomed efforts to anchor that peace despite any challenges faced. Hailing the “courageous” engagement of President Juan Manuel Santos, he said the peace process was evidence that there was a reason for hope. There also had been a remarkable commitment by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, demonstrating that the United Nations was up to task of the expectations set. The resolution — adopted following a request made in June — set up a new mission that would verify implementation of the accord. France was fully invested in helping Colombia, he said, highlighting €820 million in contributions linked to post-conflict and calling the resolution an “essential marking point” in a process in which the United Nations had played a critical role in helping to establish peace.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) congratulated Colombia on the “historic” laying down of arms stressing: “This is a major step forward for reconciliation.” He expressed hope that Japan’s support for the rehabilitation of victims and post-conflict assistance, such as demining, would foster social and economic development. A successful reintegration process was vital towards that end. Much work lay ahead, notably with a successful reintegration process. He appreciated the initiative for the socioeconomic reintegration of former FARC-EP combatants, emphasizing the importance of Government efforts to foster self-sufficiency through capacity-building and education. Proactive security efforts were also needed to secure vacated areas, deal with armed groups and protect both community leaders and human rights defenders. His country would support such work, including through the Verification Mission, but the Government’s efforts would be critical.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said that the peace accord represented an historic agreement that paved the way for peace for the Colombian people. With the near completion of the disarmament process, Colombia was now entering a significant phase of the peace process. The ongoing assistance of the United Nations would continue to focus on security, including counter-narcotics efforts and reintegration of ex-combatants, as well as humanitarian assistance. The road ahead would pose challenges, she added, reiterating her country’s support to overcoming them and implementing the peace process.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) commended the strong commitment of both sides, adding that the second political mission would help in overcoming challenges that may arise in the next step of implementing the peace process. It was important to reintegrate the combatants back into society. The violence against human rights defenders showed an urgent need for a second mission, which must have sufficient local and regional presence to fulfil its mandate.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the text paved the foundation for sustainable peace based on national ownership. It set clear steps, some of which had already been taken by the Government and other parties. He commended all sides in pledging and remaining committed to the peace accord. The unanimous adoption of the resolution today demonstrated steadfast international support to the Government of Colombia. There were some important lessons to have learned from the process. The experience had proved that a political solution along with the support of Member States, international community and the United Nations had contributed to ending conflict.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) welcomed the completion of the laying down of arms and start of the reintegration process, stressing that commitment and leadership were essential to resolving the conflict. He commended the Council for taking a unified, timely and context-specific action, declaring: “Peace is a process”, irreversible in this case, thanks to the strong resolve of President Santos and the FARC-EP. He also commended Colombia for its efforts to deliver security services and economic opportunities for the entire population, as well as its actions to curb illegal activities and organized crime. He offered Italy’s cooperation to that end. Indeed, the United Nations and the Council had set an example of flexibility and respect for ownership of the process by the parties.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), welcoming the adoption, commended Colombia for embarking on a path towards sustainable peace, and the Mission supporting those efforts. The Revolutionary Armed Forces’ laying down and return of arms to the United Nations for registering and storing marked an “important milestone”, which, alongside the ceasefire, had fortified confidence for achieving peace. “This is only the beginning of a long and arduous process,” she said, which would include implementation of the amnesty law, reintegration of FARC-EP members into civilian life, and implementation of both personal and collective security measures. Elections in 2018 could be another complication and it was imperative that parties stayed the course. Ethiopia would continue to support full implementation of the peace accord, she said.
HANNA HALCHENKO (Ukraine) said the United Nations must carefully study the lessons of Colombia and apply them to other situations. Guaranteeing a stable and lasting peace was essential and would require the reintegration of ex-combatants back into society. The Council must continue to play a proactive role in supporting all parties in the implementation of the peace agreement, she added. It would also be critical to strengthen human rights for the benefit of all Colombians.
ABDOULAYE BARRO (Senegal) welcomed the unity of the Council in helping Colombia in its crucial phase and commended the important progress made between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces. Progress had reflected the commitment of the Government, the people of Colombia and also members of the FARC-EP. “This is worthy of our support and commitment, particularly in overcoming the challenges to peace,” he added. Efforts must be redoubled to ensure the security of ex-combatants and their reintegration into society as people active in economic life. The ultimate objective of the new mission was the implementation of the peace agreement.
PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) expressed his country’s pride in having co-sponsored the resolution, stressing that the most difficult phase lay ahead: social and economic reintegration and the implementation of personal and collective security guarantees. Those encouraging hate speech and showing disregard for reconciliation spoke to the difficulties ahead. Trust had been placed in the Council and he welcomed that the body had shown unanimous support for Colombia. “It is an example for the entire world,” he said, expressing Bolivia’s unconditional support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
LIU JIEYI (China), Council President for the month, spoke in his national capacity to stress that over the last year, progress in Colombia had made “important headways” and he thanked parties for their commitment. Today’s resolution on the verification mission once again sent a signal of support for Colombia’s peace process and would lend impetus to the full implementation of the peace accord. It also demonstrated that there was value in promoting solutions to hot spot issues. He expressed hope for the “advancement of new results”, stressing that the text offered a good example of how to properly address challenges. He expressed hope the Secretary-General would enhance communication with the parties, and put forward proposals for the size and mandate of the verification mission so the peace process would yield greater results.
MARÍA ÁNGELA HOLGUÍN CUÉLLAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said that political participation, greater equity and better justice were all crucial for her nation “to become the country we want”. That meant a country of opportunity, growth, education, and, above all, tolerance and reconciliation. Colombia was working to overcome the dynamics of decades-long conflict and violence, she added, commending the Council’s role in helping build trust between parties that negotiated the agreement. Having the support of the international community had allowed Colombia to remain steadfast in overcoming its most difficult moments.
At the time of the adoption of today’s resolution, she continued, FARC-EP had handed over their individual weapons, a process guaranteed by the first United Nations special mission. They still had to finish handing over their weapons hidden in caches, a process which should end in about two months. She said that the second special political mission was expected to be smaller and with a specific mandate to verify the actions it took in the implementation of the agreements related to political, economic and social reintegration and security and protection guarantees. “This peace process has been built amongst Colombians and is for Colombians,” she added. “Little by little people begin to see the benefits of peace and are willing to give it a chance.”
She said that the benefits were already being felt in the countryside and rural areas, where millions of Colombians had suffered the effects of the conflict much more than those living in the cities. Her nation’s peace and reconciliation process had some unique characteristics, she said, adding that it was the first in the world where victims had participated in negotiations. The Revolutionary Armed Forces had direct participation as well and were present during the negotiations contributing their knowledge and their vision on the entire agreement, and especially in the ceasefire and laying down of weapons. In addition, more than 70 per cent of the peace agreement included measures that would involve socioeconomic transformations for Colombia.