Today, 10 July 2017, the United Nations Security Council approved a second United Nations (UN) Mission in Colombia via Resolution 2366 (2017). The Second Mission’s mandate is to verify the reincorporation of the FARC-EP into civilian life and the implementation of individual and collective security measures in regions most affected by the conflict. The new mission will begin on 26 September 2017.
In the letter requesting the second mission the parties indicated that, in accordance with paragraph 6.3.3 of the peace agreement, the second mission should verify the political and socio-economic reintegration of the FARC-EP; the implementation of personal and collective security and protection measures; and the implementation of security and protection programmes for communities and organizations in conflict-affected areas.
The announcement today provided the broad overview of the Second Mission’s mandate. The more detailed design, strucutre and functions of the Mission have now to be produced. In this first announcement there is no specific reference to human rights or the role of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). This is extremely concerning given the current situation of human rights in Colombia and the overlapping Political and Human Rights Mandates envisioned in the Peace Accord.
In order to effectively monitor and verify human rights the involvement of the the UN OHCHR along with the other UN Offices referred to in Chapter 6.3.3 of the Peace Accord is essential. As the Security Council engage in writing the more detailed mandate for the Second Mission it will be essential to recognise the importance of coordination and complementarity of other UN mandates, and in particular that of the OHCHR. If this does not happen then instead of strengthening the UN mandates of the various offices in Colombia, the Security Council risks weakening them and with it weakening the sustainability of the peace process.
As part of the 29 May 2017 roadmap, the Government and the FARC requested the verification tasks of the second mandate be brought forward, to prevent any break in continuity and to coincide with the start of reintegration activities in July 2017. The Security Council agreed to this and verification tasks will begin as of today (10 July 2017). This will provide overall continuity of the UN Mission, with no break between the first and second UN Mission despite the change in mandate.
As the UK holds the pen for the Second Resolution, it is essential that they ensure that the design, structure and functions for the Mission comply with the Peace Accord (Point 6.3.3) and the concept of security in the Peace Accord, which is based on respect for human dignity, promotion of and respect for human rights, and the defense of democratic values (Points 2.1.2 and 3.4 paragraph 2). Therefore, it is essential to establish coordination and complementarity in defining the Mission’s design, structure and functions, identifying the need for a joint effort by the UN Department of Political Affairs and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Such articulation will make it possible to form a suitable civilian team with extensive experience for verifying aspects related to human rights.
- The mandate and design of the Mission should be for the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations, with the participation and collaboration of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the supervision of the Secretary General;
- Promote an environment of harmonious collaboration with all agencies of the UN system present in the country, by ensuring that the necessary protocols for collaboration are defined;
- The Second Mission should maintain a proactive and plural dialogue with the social and human rights organisations nationally, regionally and locally;
- To integrate an ethnic and gender focus into the mandate of the mission and to continue to seek a gender and ethnic balance in the formation of working teams.
The Peace Accord provided for a second UN Mission to be established upon completion of the mandate of the first Mission. The focus of the Second Mission is the reintegration of FARC and the implementation of personal and collective security and protection measures, both for FARC and for local communities.
As part of the 29 May 2017 roadmap, the parties requested the verification tasks of the second mandate be brought forward, to prevent any break in continuity and to coincide with the start of reintegration activities in July 2017. In keeping with this agreement, President Juan Manuel Santos, in a letter dated 5 June addressed to the President of the Security Council to establishment of the Second Mission before 10 July 2017.
The 29 May roadmap provides for the start of preparations for the reintegration process on 1 June. It also provides that by 1 August, the local zones and points would convert into Territorial Spaces for Training and Reintegration. Furthermore, it states that the first United Nations Mission will continue until the end of its mandate on 26 September. Its tasks, according to revised timelines in the roadmap, include the verification of the laying down of individual arms by 20 June and of the disposal of arms caches until 1 September.