Government officials, former rebel combatants, community leaders and other stakeholders all demonstrated their commitment to implementing the 2016 peace agreement that ended five decades of conflict in Colombia, the heads of a recent Security Council visiting mission to the South American country reported today.
“The aim of the visiting mission was to show the Council’s full commitment to supporting the peace process” and to better understand the concerns of various stakeholders, said Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru), Council President for July, who led the visiting mission alongside his counterpart from the United Kingdom.
He said the visit took place between 11 and 14 July at the invitation of the Government of Colombia, welcoming the frank dialogue between the Council delegation and Government officials in Bogota, including President Iván Duque Márquez and Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo.
During a breakfast meeting, he added, President Duque handed the delegation a letter requesting that the Council extend the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia for one year. Also during the visit, the leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) expressed their full commitment to implementing the peace agreement.
Discussions with Colombian interlocutors — including civil society groups — centred around progresses and challenges, he said. Among the major topics were the reintegration of former combatants; the killing of social leaders, former combatants who laid down arms and human rights defenders by drug traffickers and paramilitary groups; rural development, including crop-substitution projects; protection of the rights of victims; management of a mixed flow of refugees and migrants; and the inclusion of women and young people in the peace process. He also reported on meetings with Colombia’s Truth Commission, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, and the Unit for the Search for Persons deemed as Missing.
Jonathan Guy Allen (United Kingdom), the mission’s co-leader, reported that on the second day, the delegation visited Cauca, an area highly affected by five decades of conflict. Community leaders expressed concern about the lack of channels for democratic participation, polarization of political discourse and killing of social leaders, he said, adding that one woman was forced to cancel her participation in the meeting due to a threat she received the previous night.
He said the delegation also visited the Santa Rosa Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration, touring the living quarters and stopping over at a nearby collective productive project employing former combatants and some members of the local communities. The delegation learned how agriculture plays an essential role in reintegrating ex-fighters into civilian life, he said, noting that they were growing tree tomatoes, which may be traded in local as well as international markets.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:18 a.m.