“Colombia is at a critical point, a crossroads where the decisive will of the parties and the support of the international community can come together to support the embryonic peace processes,” said Carlos Ruiz Massieu, presenting his latest report.
It shows that progress has been made in many sections of the 2016 Peace Agreement signed by the Government and the FARC-EP militia group that ended five decades of civil strife.
Rural reform, victims’ rights
He emphasized in particular the provisions related to peace under the National Development Plan adopted in May, legislation on rural reform, and allocation of funds to implement the agreement.
Other steps forward include the establishment of the Ministry of Equality, and action towards improving the situation of the indigenous, Afro-Colombian communities and other vulnerable groups.
“The central importance of victims is a promise made in the Agreement and a fundamental principle is its implementation,” he recalled.
“Pride of place should be given to the victims, while the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) continues to make progress in its various cases including through new indictments.”
Rise of violence
Mr. Ruiz reported that unfortunately, violence continues to hinder the full implementation of the peace agreement. He expressed the hope that a newly adopted security and defense policy will give results and approve the situation in the affected regions.
“As the implementation of rural reform progressed, we saw an increase in violence against peasant leaders and land claimants and obstacles against government officials working on land reform,” he said. .
Continued violence against ex-combatants is another concern, he added, noting that five have been killed in recent weeks.
“More needs to be done to protect those who exercise leadership and stand up for the rights of the entire community, as well as those who lay down their arms in good faith under the Peace Agreement,” Mr. Ruiz told the ambassadors. .
He also reiterated the UN’s condemnation for last week’s armed attack against members of the Catholic Church in Caldona.
Colombia will hold local elections in October and the UN envoy appealed for “illegal armed actors” to respect the rights of citizens and candidates. He urged the authorities to ensure the safety of the vote and the full participation of women.
Dialogue with armed groups
Mr. Ruiz also noted the momentum of the Government’s efforts towards dialogue with various armed groups. The third cycle of negotiations with the ELN group, held in Cuba, has yielded encouraging results.
“Last week, we saw the entry of force into the cessation of offensive action between the parties. That is a step towards the full entry of force into the bilateral, national and temporary ceasefire on August 3,” he said. .
The coming days should also see the initiation of a national committee that will encourage the broad participation of all sectors of society in the peace process.
Other good news are efforts towards dialogue with another group known as ‘Estado Mayor Central FARC’.
“I hope that the building of trust between the parties will continue and that we will soon see positive developments regarding the formal start of negotiations and a renewed national ceasefire,” he said.