In the latest report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, which covers the period from March 27 to June 26, 2023, the General secretary of the United Nations recognized the advances in the implementation of central aspects of the Peace Agreement, and encouraged the Government to continue persevering, both in its implementation, and in the dialogue to confront the violence.
António Guterres received with optimism the advances in several points of the Agreement, as well as the approval of key policies and legislation, and the allocation of resources to speed up implementation. Also highlighted the agreements reached on the ceasefire and the participation of society in the Dialogue Table between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
“I welcome, for example, that peace in general and the Final Agreement in particular appear as important priorities in the National Development Plan, prepared with the broad participation of Colombian society,” he declared.
comprehensive rural reform
The report highlights the progress made in terms of comprehensive rural reform; Although the Government has advanced in the purchase of land for peasants, its delivery and the definition of beneficiaries have not yet taken place. The authorities also continue to work to expedite land restitution.
“I am confident that the lands made available so far for rural reform purposes will soon be released to their intended beneficiaries, including victims and rural women, along with the support needed to ensure long-term success, such as access to credit and technical assistance”, says the Secretary General.
Likewise, the National Development Plan established mechanisms to implement development programs with a territorial approach (PDET). “It also reactivated the National System for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, a key inter-institutional coordination mechanism. In addition, it established a dialogue mechanism with peasant organizations,” the report states.
Social and political reincorporation
Regarding reintegration, the Secretary General welcomed the agreement reached in the National Reintegration Council on a sustainability strategy and the commitment of the Government to support it with significant resources.
The report notes that, despite efforts, the persistence of violence continues to jeopardize the reincorporation processand highlights the efforts of the Government to expedite the access and purchase of land for ex-combatants, especially for productive projects.
Within the framework of political reintegration, the report underlines that some 500 ex-combatants are expected to present themselves, either through the party or through coalitions and other parties. Given the attacks and threats against ex-combatants seeking to participate in the upcoming regional elections, the report indicates that requests have been made for Greater institutional efforts to guarantee their participation. In addition, it points out the need to make specific efforts to protect and promote the political participation of women ex-combatants.
The document states that the persistence of violence by illegal armed groups and criminal organizations “continues to disrupt the lives of civilians and undermine peacebuilding in various regions.” Faced with this situation, he highlights the importance of peace initiatives and increasing the State’s efforts to protect vulnerable communities, especially in rural areas.
Between January and May 2023, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs it registered 19,976 forced displaced persons and 18,789 confined in 14 departments and 38 municipalities. Indigenous and Afro-Colombians continue to be disproportionately affected. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights registered 22 massacres (seven verified, twelve in the process of verification and three inconclusive). The verified cases involved a total of 24 victims (four women and five children).
In addition, during the reporting period, twelve ex-combatants (all men) were killed in eight departments. Regarding social leaders, the document highlights that, four months before the regional elections, the Mission registered the murder of six membersincluding a woman.
For his part, the Secretary General praised “the Government’s determination to seek solutions to respond to these constantly evolving conflict dynamics, especially its emphasis on dialogue.”
“I am confident that the parties will continue to show determination and good faith in the implementation of the agreements reached in Cuba and that the next cycles will lead to new agreements for the benefit of all Colombians,” he added.
In relation to the ethnic chapter, Guterres noted as encouraging the Government’s work to prioritize the needs of indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples, the strengthening of participation, collective reparation, land restitution and the return of ethnic peoples to their territories.
The Secretary General urges the Government to redouble efforts to address historical exclusion and inequality, noting that violence continues to affect indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.