Colombia: unwavering support to the peace process
Statement by Mr.Antoine Michon, Political Cordinator of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 26 July 2018
« At the outset, I would like to welcome His Excellency Mr. Óscar Naranjo Trujillo, Vice-President of Colombia, and pay tribute to him for his personal commitment to peace and the role he played in the negotiation and implementation of the Peace Agreement with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejercito del Pueblo (FARC-EP). I would also like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Jean Arnault, both for the quality of his briefing and for his exemplary work as Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia.
The Colombian authorities, particularly President Santos Calderón, have shown exceptional political courage that has been a source of admiration and inspiration for the entire international community. Despite doubts and criticism, they initiated a historic peace process with the FARC-EP and have redoubled their efforts to implement it. Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, our Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is currently visiting Colombia and will take the opportunity to reaffirm France’s unwavering support for this process and our readiness to continue to support the Colombian people on the road to peace. That is the message that he will convey to the President-elect, Mr. Iván Duque, whom he will have the honour of meeting during his visit.
The United Nations in general, and the Security Council in particular, have also played a key role in implementing the Peace Agreement by providing the necessary support for disarmament and the political transition of the FARC-EP. With regard to the mandate conferred on the second United Nations Mission in Colombia, I would like to focus on three points today.
First, France reiterates its congratulations to the Colombian authorities on their organization and successful holding of presidential elections on 27 May and 17 June. That democratic exercise, which followed the parliamentary elections held in March, confirmed the evolution of Colombian political life towards a more peaceful climate and Colombian citizens’ broader participation in the democratic process. In that regard, we encourage the elected authorities to pursue the implementation of every aspect of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace concluded with the FARC-EP. Particular attention should be paid to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which is the cornerstone of the comprehensive truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition system, as well as to amnesty for detainees and the search for the tens of thousands of persons assumed to be missing. Those commitments by the Colombian State are commitments to peace undertaken before the international community and it is important that they be fully honoured.
My second point concerns the security of the women and men working for peace in the areas affected by the conflict. France firmly condemns the killings of civil-society leaders, human rights defenders and those involved in coca substitution programmes. Despite the Colombian authorities’ commitment to reducing the level of violence, the situation remains extremely worrying. In a context where illegal armed groups are struggling to regain control of areas previously controlled by the FARC-EP, it is taking a long time for peace dividends to reach the local populations. We therefore encourage continued efforts, including the deployment of State services, both security forces and civilian institutions, in those areas. Furthermore, combating impunity for crimes committed in the context of the conflict, including extrajudicial executions, is crucial and must continue.
Finally, I would like to draw the Council’s attention once again to another key point for reintegration and the future of the peace process, which is access to land and sources of income. Indeed, once the issue of access to land is resolved and the restitution of the lands looted during the conflict is the subject of legal proceedings, it is socioeconomic projects that will give former combatants prospects for a future within the Colombian national community. That socioeconomic reintegration, which is closely linked to the provision of State services in the most vulnerable areas, is the key to the lasting success of the peace process. It is receiving major support from the international community, including France and the European Union, through various financial instruments. The restoration of territories that have been ruined by half a century of conflict depends on it.
Regardless of their political affiliation, all Colombians can be proud of the Peace Agreement reached with the FARC-EP. More than ever, consolidating that peace requires the unity of the Colombian nation as it enters a new era, one in which former combatants will take their full place in Colombian society and other groups, we hope, will choose to turn away from violence, as we expect the National Liberation Army to do. France therefore encourages the new Colombian authorities to continue implementing the agreement and confirm the remarkable success of the peace process in Colombia. »