Remarks by Carlos Ruiz Massieu Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia Event hosted by the Government of Colombia, two years on actions supporting the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
A special greeting and thank you to President Duque for this invitation. It is especially gratifying to be here with the participation of former presidents Felipe González and José Mujica, who play a fundamental role as Notables in the follow-up of the Peace Agreement.
Our presence here today is an example of the collective effort that the peace process requires. First and foremost, undoubtedly, is the effort of the Government and FARC, but also of other national actors and the international community.
It is an honour to participate in this moment of reflection, two years into the administration of President Duque, regarding the actions that support the implementation of the Peace Agreement. It is an appropriate moment to take stock, to protect what has been achieved, and to strengthen the opportunities offered by the Agreement for the benefit of Colombia.
The Peace Agreement, the same one that ended decades of conflict between the Government and the FARC-EP, complements other peace consolidation efforts in Colombia. Colombia's experience in peace processes reaffirms its vocation to resolve conflicts through negotiation and peaceful solutions. The United Nations always places a premium on dialogue, and I would like to take this opportunity to recognize, once again, this path which has made Colombia an example for the world.
Almost four years after the signing of the Agreement, we have a collective responsibility to remember the road travelled so far and its many positive results. The Agreement is the result of a consensus built between the conflicting parties on the transformations the country needs. A common vision that has been translated into a willingness and commitment to work towards the consolidation of peace.
The will and commitment to reducing confrontation and violence was demonstrated by the fulfilment of the bilateral ceasefire and the laying down of arms by the FARC-EP. Similarly, the transformation of this guerrilla group into a political party that today participates under the rules of the Constitution and the law of the country.
The willingness to establish an institutional architecture related to peace, which translates not only to new laws and regulations but also to new entities derived from the Agreement. The willingness to maintain dialogue and collaborative action in the implementation, between the signatory parties, the institutions, the citizenry, and most importantly, with the regions.
The implementation of the Peace Agreement offers the opportunity to bring benefits in particular to the territories affected by the conflict, by boosting local development, providing justice and truth, substituting illicit economies, and generating better conditions to pave the way for coexistence and reconciliation.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge both the Government and the FARC for maintaining their will and commitment to the Peace Agreement. The policies and programs that the Government has implemented, such as those designed to address the reintegration of thousands of people who have laid down their weapons, as well as the development programmes with a territorial focus, to name a few, will undoubtedly contribute to achieving those transformations expected by the regions most affected by the conflict are expecting.
Likewise, the commitment of the nearly 13,000 people who remain in the reintegration process, despite the great challenges in terms of security guarantees, is proof of their commitment to non-repetition, another principle enshrined in the Agreement. Without a doubt, both parties continue to show their full conviction that the implementation of the Peace Agreement is the way forward.
However, it is also essential to remember that the implementation of any peace agreement is complex. It occurs in the long term and is not without difficulties or challenges. Fortunately, the results mentioned above are an excellent basis for further progress. For this reason, the permanent commitment of the signatory parties, the sustained effort over time, the availability of resources, and the broad participation of national and international actors are indispensable to deepen the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
Currently, one of the main difficulties facing the peace process is the persistence of violence by illegal armed actors and other criminal groups in some regions of the country. This is a concern shared by Colombian society, the Government, the United Nations, and the international community in general. The deleterious effects upon security guarantees are not allowing communities, former combatants and institutions from fully realizing their potential to build peace and therefore delaying the transformations provided for in the Agreement and the expectations of Colombians for peace.
The underlying causes of the violence are the presence of illicit economies and illegal armed groups, limited institutional presence, and reduced opportunities for development in the most remote regions of the country. As communities are clamoring for development and calling for strategies to improve protection and security in the regions, the integrated presence of the State is necessary to consolidate trust, governance, and the rule of law. I am certain that the coordinated work between institutions, communities, and local authorities will succeed in facing this challenge.
I have not doubt that the progress we have heard about here today is contributing to the materialization of the vision that Colombian society has for their country, and this progress can be augmented by strengthening the participation of civil society and communities in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, with coordination between institutions, and through the effective implementation of the Agreement in the territories, where they are still waiting for the promises enshrined in it.
One of those promises is reconciliation. Honouring the victims and satisfying their rights to truth, justice, and reparation, through the transitional justice system provided for in the Agreement, is a sure path to reconciliation.
Additionally, in this context of the pandemic, and being peace one of the pillars of the Economic Reactivation Plan announced by President Duque, it is key to take advantage of the benefits offered by the comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement.
The two years ahead for President Duque and his government are an opportunity to strengthen national unity around the consolidation of peace, protecting what has been achieved and building on those solid foundations a different Colombia, a better Colombia.
Our participation in this meeting reaffirms, once again, the interest and willingness of the United Nations to continue accompanying and supporting Colombia in this process.