The UN Security Council Visit Colombia: February 2024

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) agenda for Colombia between 7 and 11 February 2024. The delegation consists of the UK (as the penholder on the UNSC for Colombia), and co-delegation leaders Guyana and Switzerland. This visit comes at the mid-point in the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord agreed with FARC-EP, which was envisaged as needing 15 years for its implementation.

  • 8 February: The delegation met with high-level government officials, including the President; representatives of government entities overseeing the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord; Congress men and women; members of the political party ‘Comunes’[1] and other signatories to the 2016 Peace Accord.
  • 9 February: The delegation visited southern Caquetá and Agua Bonita, one of the 24 former territorial areas for training and reintegration (TATRs), where former FARC-EP combatants and their families are living, to see first-hand the progress and challenges related to the reintegration of former combatants.
  • 10 February: The UNSC went to Buenaventura and met with communities, NGOs and Vice President Francia Marquez.

One of the objectives of the UNSC’s visit is to gain a better understanding of the ‘interplay between the Total Peace policy and the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord, and to hear directly from Colombian actors’ regarding the advances and challenges.

The mandate of the UNSC Verification Mission in Colombia was extended on 2 August 2023 to, alongside the monitoring of the implementation of the 2016 Accord, “monitoring the ceasefire with the ELN rebel group” under the Total Peace Policy of Colombian President Gustavo Petro Urrego.

The Total Peace policy aims to engage in dialogue with and remove illegal armed groups operating in the country. Peace Talks and a ceasefire are currently in operation with the ELN and EMC, and talks have started with the Segunda Marquetalia. In addition, the government is engaged in discussions that it hopes will lead to official dialogues with other criminal groups and gangs. A meeting for the UNSC on this matter is planned in Bogotá with the heads of the government delegations to the dialogues with the ELN and the … Estado Mayor Central (EMC)…’

The UNSC delegation will want to know more about the progress, challenges and obstacle to the monitoring of the ceasefire with the ELN. There is also the potential for the UNSC to agree to monitor compliance with the ceasefire between the government and the EMC. “Resolution 2694 of 2 August 2023 … indicated the Council’s willingness to consider a further expansion of the mandate to monitor the ceasefire between the government and the EMC when … appropriate verification protocols [have] been reached …” There are concerns amongst some UNSC members regarding the maturity of the EMC process.

Colombia remains a rare file on the Council’s agenda that enjoys consensus…The mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia…has been expanded three times since 2019 at the request of the government.”

The UNSC mandate was extended on 1 January 2023, via the adoption of Resolution 2673, to also include monitoring of the implementation of the Ethnic Chapter of the 2016 Peace Accord. This visit will be an opportunity to gather firsthand information from representatives of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in Buenaventura regarding the implementation of this chapter. This is also an opportunity to understand more about how the Total Peace dialogues are progressing with the criminal gangs in this city.

“The members of the Security Council welcomed the Government of Colombia’s public commitment to accelerate implementation of the ethnic chapter by signing a national pact to complete 60 per cent of its implementation by 2026 …” UNSC Press statement January 2024

As the UNSC covers the implementation of Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, they met with representatives of civil society and women’s organisations. ABColombia hopes that the UNSC will use this opportunity to discuss with women’s CSOs progress on the development of the Colombian National Action Plan (NAP) 1325, as well as the governance structure under which it will be implemented.

The persistent violence against indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant communities, human rights defenders, social leaders and former combatants, and the continuation of sexual and gender-based violence is likely to be on the delegation’s agenda: “The members of the Security Council continued to reiterate their strong concern about the continued threats and violence faced by former combatants, social leaders, and called for further implementation of the action plan of the “Comprehensive Programme for Safeguards for Women Leaders and Human Rights Defenders”.  They also reiterated their strong concern that conflict related violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, continues to have a disproportionate impact on women and girls and on Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.” Press Statement January 2024

The UNSC are likely to want to see and hear firsthand further information about progress on increasing state presence in conflict-affected areas. In their last Press statement (Jan 2024) the Council welcomed progress on rural reform. Given that members of the Security Council commended ‘increased attention to the rural reform provisions of the Peace Agreement, … key to addressing structural issues at the heart of the conflict, … [as well as] continued acquisition and delivery of land to peasant and ethnic communities, budget increase, and comprehensive assistance of rural development.’ Press statement (Jan 2024)

ABColombia considers it essential to maintain momentum and close monitoring of the implementation of these key structural issues.

Implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord

One of President Petro’s main objectives is to fully implement the 2016 Peace Accord. To this end, in March 2023 he announced that his government would establish an office in the Presidency dedicated to advancing implementation of the 2016 Accord. ‘The UNSC is interested in seeing this implemented sooner rather than later.‘ This office had not been established at the time of the Council’s visit. ABColombia hopes that the UNSC will want to hear more about progress to date on this. As this office is essential for rapid and coordinated implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord. According to a recent monitoring report published by CINEP it will ‘enhance institutional coordination and legal and financial capacity for the full and integrated implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord’ (unofficial translation). Increased violence in rural areas is in no small part due to the lack of rapid and integrated implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord.

Many peasant families are still waiting for the government to deliver on the substantial productive projects promised to those taking part in the crop substitution programme (PNIS). Having eradicated the coca crops, these families now have no income or food security unless the government delivers on this.

Another area of interest for UNSC members is likely to be the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the judicial component for the transitional justice system, and the UNSC will meet with JEP representatives. The Council are likely to want to have more information on sentencing, and mechanisms for implementing these sentences. Another area of interest will be progress on Macro Case 11 on sexual and gender based violence.

[1] The Comunes party was formed by former FARC-EP members after they laid down their arms.