Statement by Mr.Dmitry Polyansky, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on the situation in Colombia
On behalf of Russia, I would first like to express our condolences to the nearest and dearest of our colleague and friend Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue, the Permanent Representative of Côte d’Ivoire, on his untimely passing.
We will greatly miss his sense of humour, constructive attitude, professionalism and enthusiasm for the issues on the Council’s agenda. He has done a great deal for his country and for the people of Côte d’Ivoire. We share their pain and sorrow. This is a severe blow to the United Nations diplomatic corps. May his soul rest in peace.
To return to this morning’s topic, I want to welcome Óscar Naranjo Trujillo, Vice-President of Colombia, and María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, Colombia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, to our meeting. We are here today to discuss the situation in Colombia since the holding of parliamentary elections on 11 March. That was an important and significant event, considering that the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) took part in the elections for the first time, after decades in opposition. Despite the modest results, that political force will represent the interests of its supporters.
We congratulate Colombia and the Colombians on that achievement. Thanks to the sense of national responsibility they have demonstrated, the country has been able to take another very important step towards a sustainable peace. We thank Mr. Jean Arnault, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, for his presentation of the Secretary-General’s report (S/2018/279). Both the briefing and the report confirm that a lot of work remains to be done.
We should have no illusions about that. Despite the fact that the country’s situation has changed for the better by comparison to the war years, some chronic problems contain to present obstacles to strengthening sustainable peace, which is why we wholeheartedly endorse the support that the United Nations presence provides to Colombians under the leadership of Mr. Arnault. It was the support of the first special political mission, which completed its work last September, that helped Colombians to secure major gains in the peace process.
In the wake of the ceasefire ending many years of conflict and the signing of the Final Peace Agreement at the end of 2016, the United Nations Mission in Colombia ensured the completion of the surrender of weapons by FARC-EP. Former combatants began to arrive in the reintegration zones, in spite of some problems with setting them up, as the Head of the Mission reported.
These successes enabled the Council to start discussing the shift to the second phase, that of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia. Issued six months after the start of the Verification Mission’s work, the Secretary-General’s report has pointed to a number of serious problems, particularly the bureaucratic obstacles that the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común (FARC) encountered during a crucial stage of its electoral campaign.
Unfortunately, the number of murders of former combatants and communal leaders has also increased exponentially. Against that backdrop, illegal armed groups have taken control of lands that had previously been liberated by FARC-EP, despite the announcement of the Horus plan, which is meant to ensure Government control in such areas. Furthermore, another topic that has provoked a significant reaction in Colombian society was missing from the report — the arrest on 9 April of Jesús Santrich, one of the negotiators of the Final Peace Agreement and a member of the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común party who, as we know, was supposed to take up his parliamentary seat. We were pleased with Mr. Arnault’s information that the key agreements of the parties remain in force.
Together with the United Nations Mission, we will carefully monitor the process and the applicability, in this situation, of Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace, a key component of the Final Peace Agreement and therefore a guarantee of peace. All of these issues will require careful attention from the Government, the United Nations Mission and the international community, which rightly see Colombia as an example of post-conflict rebuilding. Not to mention how attentively the Ejército de Liberación Nacional is watching the development of events. All of that places a special responsibility on the Verification Mission, which should be fully mobilized and focused on fulfilling its mandate on schedule.
That is especially important in the run-up to the presidential elections. We believe that all parties must continue to adhere strictly to the outcome of the Peace Agreement in its current form by all parties, regardless of whatever changes await the country’s Government. In that context, we will be paying close attention to the statements of the candidates.
It is important to remember that the authority of the Security Council and the SecretaryGeneral is invested in the success of the peace process.
For our part, we once again affirm our readiness to continue to support the people and the Government of Colombia in building lasting peace and sustainable post-conflict development.