Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the UN Security Council Meeting on Colombia
We welcome Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia Carlos Holmes Trujillo in the Security Council. We believe his personal presence is of utmost importance, especially when we recall the words of the Secretary General that Colombia is now living through an extremely important stage.
I might be risking to displease you, Mr. President, but still I would like to thank Ms. Salamanca and Head of the UNVMC Carlos Ruiz Massieu for their detailed reports on the work of the mission and developments in the country that have taken place during the recent three months.
Russia has always been a friend of Colombia and its citizens. In our capacity as a UNSC Permanent Member we have been steadily supporting Colombian peace process - and we intend to carry on in the future. We are very much encouraged by the fact that Colombia’s first steps towards a sustainable peace have inspired many other turbulent regions.
At the same time, when saying that we are friends to Colombia we believe that a friend is not the one who only says things that are nice to hear. That is why we will be frank and tell you that we have concerns about the situation around the Colombian peace process. We fully share the assessments of Secretary General's report, according to which the country is at an important crossroads.
Over the 2.5 years since Colombia signed the Final Peace Agreement, a lot has been done in order to consolidate peace in the country. Today it is vital not to step back, not to let the national reconciliation roll backwards, because though complicated, it is the only right way for Colombia.
In this regard we have been alarmed by worrisome assessments made by the Secretary General and many other international stakeholders regarding Bogota’s decision to revise the statute law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. We are aware that this decision induced over 150 public organizations to call for a nation-wide strike. We share this concern and support the call of Antonio Guterres to adopt the statute law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace as soon as possible.
We appreciate that Minister C.Holmes Trijillo personally came to New York to meet the Members of the Security Council and elaborate on the logics behind the proposed amendments. We respect this and by no means interfere in the Colombian domestic processes.
However, by addressing the Security Council, the Colombians assigned to us - UNSC Member States - a large share of responsibility for the success of the peaceful process; and our shared duty now is to live up to this trust. This was the reason why the Security Council and the Secretary General decided to invest their authority in the support for the Final Peace Agreement, its concrete text and all the key provisions, including the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. Now it is vital that the then arrangements were implemented in their original form.
I will not dwell in detail on the critical assessments of the report - they are rather numerous. For example, one of the core elements of the peace process - agricultural reform - has not been yet finalized.
There is a complex bunch of problems related to ensuring security at the areas where central authorities are underrepresented.
The plan for substitution of illicit crops is also stalled.
To our regret the report gave us no optimistic signals about the dialogue between the government and the armed formations. We absolutely condemn the terrorist attack to have taken place on January 17, however we are convinced that sustainable settlement can be achieved only through a direct dialogue with those ready to negotiate and achieve agreements.
There is a lack of progress in legal, social and economic, and political reintegration of former combatants. The issue of their safety and employment remains pressing. All of this incurs an increase in a number of dissidents.
The humanitarian mine action program is also stalled. There were cases of repeated mining of previously cleared locations.
There are other alarming assessments that for some reason failed to become part of Secretary General’s report or were described in little detail.
We take notice of emerging hotbeds of discontent of the population regarding delays in implementation of the key provisions of the Final Peace Acgreement. For example, the indigenous population in the South-West of the country have blocked a crucial transportation route of the country - Pan-American Highway - for one month. Illegal armed formations try to make use of this situation and resort to terror against indigenous population, thus exacerbating people’s discontent.
The problem of IDPs is also acute for Colombia. Over 50 years of conflict there have emerged over 7 mln IDPs, which is roughly every sixth citizen of the country. Unfortunately, this indicator is still getting worse.
We understand that Colombia has to stand up to extra burden that has to do with the influx of refugees from Venezuela; and we believe the international community should help Bogota overcome it. What is going on around Venezuela should not impede the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement.
We see the assessments of the OHCHR according to which problems in the implementation of human rights in the country are related to the stalemate of the Final Peace Agreement.
We also cannot ignore the assessments of ICRC representatives who say that “the current state of affairs is even more complicated than it used to be when the Havana Peace Agreement was signed”. There are no less than five internal armed conflicts that remain and intensify in Colombia. Four major anti-governmental groups take part in them. According to the estimates of the Colombian Defense Ministry they bring together up to 10 thousand combatants. As we have learned from Secretary General’s reports, the number of ex-combatants who got back to armed fight had increased to almost 2 thousand by the end of 2018. Besides, among them there were five senior command-level officers and a significant number of field commanders.
In such a volatile situation it is vital to restore trust in the peace process of those who faithfully complied with the obligations under it.
Being Colombia’s friend, we feel obliged to say directly that the international community, the UN, and its Security Council expect the Colombian administration to strictly observe their obligations under the Final Peace Agreement. It is with pleasure that we perceive the assessments of the Secretary General about the commitment of Colombia’s leadership to a peaceful process, however we call not slip into complacency.
There is a need to consolidate progress and build upon it, while at every stage checking it against the actors who signed the peace agreement. Without doing so it will hardly be possible to put an end to an internal armed conflict.
In conclusion I would like to repeat that the Security Council has repeatedly pointed out that Colombia is a “display case”, a fine sample of how international support can be provided - in close cooperation with and under the guiding role of the affected government and given a responsible position of the community. It is Colombia’s national responsibility and the desire to search for sustainable political solutions that have made peace possible in the country.
We hope that the UNVMC that we support will go on contributing to the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement and playing an important role in reintegration assistance for former FARC participants who should become part of peaceful lifestyle and political activity in Colombia.