Colombia reiterates commitment to ensure a state presence in rural areas

The UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward issued a statement at the UN Security Council (UNSC) following the Council’s visit to Colombia, sharing how Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, Otto Patino, detailed the Colombian Government’s plan for territorial transformation, by ensuring the state’s presence in rural areas which have continued to be abandoned even after the signing of the 2016 Peace Accord. Patino also recognised that peace in rural areas means delivering schools, healthcare, and infrastructure, as well as efforts to strengthen the humanitarian provisions of the ceasefires.

There are real concerns being expressed by civil society that there is insufficient coordination being put into the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord. Increased violence in rural areas is in no small part due to the lack of rapid and integrated implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord. This needs to be delivered quickly, in a coordinated manner, and with sufficient financial resources, in the rural areas of Colombia. As far back as March 2023, that the Colombian Government announced it would establish an office in the Presidency dedicated to advancing implementation of the 2016 Accord. This office is essential according to a recent monitoring report published by CINEP.

An Office in the Presidency for the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord will ‘enhance institutional coordination and legal and financial capacity for the full and integrated implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord” (unofficial translation CINEP Report).

The visit of the UNSC has happened at a key moment in the Peace Process in Colombia, as the Paz Total (Total Peace) government policy is making an effort to “broaden peace through dialogue”. The UNSC is already involved in monitoring the ELN Talks that are being conducted under this policy, and Woodward also stated that the UNSC is willing to also monitor the dialogue with the EMC. In Bogota, the UNSC report hearing a “firm commitment to the 2016 Peace Agreement and the importance of security guarantees for former combatants from Government entities in charge of peace implementation”.

There is a definite worsening of violent disputes between armed groups in the rural areas which is impacting the possibility of a coordinated implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord. The conditions of insecurity are affecting communities and the reintegration of former combatants of the now extinct FARC-EP, preventing political participation and impeding the development of local economies and life projects.