Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at an open VTC of UNSC members on the situation in Colombia

We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Carlos Ruiz Massieu for the presentation of Secretary-General’s report on the work of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. We welcome the participation in this meeting of Mme. Claudia Blum de Barberi – Foreign Minister of Colombia.

We share the growing concern of the Secretary-General with regard to the continuing killings and violence against the participants of the peace process, community leaders, social activists and members of ethnic minorities. Ensuring safety and security of the civilian population must rank as the first priority.

To effectively carry out this task, it is essential to address the vacuum of state presence in remote areas. Their residents do not feel safe and therefore often have to leave their homes to escape violence of organized criminal groups that produce and deal in drugs. These IDPs total thousands of people.

It is no less important that the peace process should be driven by reintegration of former combatants. Comprehensive land reform remains critical for Colombia, including such aspects as land allocation and proper implementation of crops substitution programs. Unless this is addressed, it is hard to speak of promoting socio-economic reintegration.

We would wish for the SG reports to contain more information on political reintegration of peace process participants. Are there any major difficulties or everything is seamless on this track?

With regard to other problems highlighted in the report, we cannot fail to mention a noticeable build-up of a repressive component in the actions of the authorities. It is reflected, in particular, in the use of force against civil population during the recent protests as indicated in the report.

We would like to draw attention to the fact that the statistics of the victims and those injured among the protestors in Colombia are comparable to or even surpass the respective numbers in other country situations which receive vibrant attention of our colleagues in the Security Council and become a subject of focused attention of the UN Secretariat and statements of the Press Secretary for UNSG. We expect the Secretariat and our colleagues to stick to the same standards in their reaction to all disturbing events on the globe.

Decades of internal conflict in Colombia have shown that violence will never lead to lasting solutions. That is why the Secretary-General’s call to a universal ceasefire amidst the pandemic is so relevant for the country. In this context, we note the initiatives of unilateral ceasefire. Regrettably, they have found no support of the government. We call on Colombian actors not to miss an opportunity to resume dialogue. After all, sustainable peace is hardly possible unless the entire range of opinions is taken into account.

We cannot avoid addressing another highlight of the SG report – the reduction of financing of state institutions in charge of the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement.  Instead, there is an increase by 10 % for the bodies that investigate the events dating back to the times of the internal conflict.

As we learned from the report, there has been some progress on this track. In particular, in terms of confessions provided by former FARDC members. It needs to be noted that according to the Final Peace Agreement such confessions are to be examined by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which has to be fully independent. Any interference in its prerogatives or attempts to move particular cases outside of its jurisdiction are unacceptable. Honest compliance by the participants of the peace process with their responsibilities under the Final Agreement should not be used for neutralization of political opponents. We would wish to get more information from the Verification Mission on similar confessions by the state participants of the conflict.

We hope that future introduction in the Mission’s mandate of tasks to monitor implementation of sentences of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace will enhance the efficiency of this body.

As a general remark, we would like to point out that investigation of the events of the conflict is by all means important, but the genuine success of the peace process depends on the work ahead, not on the grievances of the past.

In this regard, we take note of the report by Colombia’s Prosecutor General, which cites some irregularities in post-conflict planning – 60% of funding has been allocated to finance only 5% of projects. As pointed out by the country’s Controller General, in these circumstances the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement will take at least 25 years as opposed to the 15 years initially planned. Such estimates are not at all encouraging.

We followed carefully the address of Colombia’s leadership to international community made on 16 September with regard to the progress in implementation of “Peace with Legality” program.

While not trying to diminish the importance of a number of achievements, we would still like to emphasize that the central role in the Colombian peace process belongs to the Final Peace Agreement, as this document envisages responsibilities for various Colombian actors. It is important to maintain commitment to this historic document that enjoys support not only of the Security Council and the Secretary-General, but also of the international community. We hope to learn more about implementation of the Final Peace Agreement from the distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia.

We reiterate our firm support for the work of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia under the leadership of Carlos Ruiz Massieu.

Finally, we believe that the Council should review its practice of considering UNSG reports right after adopting the resolution, which extends mandate of the Mission. The order here should be the opposite.  We note that the document issued on 25 September quite adequately reflects the developments in the country.  

Russia, and all other members of the Security Council, as well as all the members of the international community, should continue contributing to the Colombian peace process in order to ensure its sustainable and lasting nature.