- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2435 (2018), by which the Council renewed the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, and Council resolution 2366 (2017), in which it requested the Secretary-General to report on the activities of the Mission every 90 days. The report covers the period from 27 June to 26 September 2019.
II. Major developments
During the reporting period, the President of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, completed the first year of his administration. With regard to the peace process, President Duque highlighted advances made in the implementation of the “Peace with legality” strategy, among them the number of productive projects approved for former combatants, the start of implementation of the development programmes with a territorial focus, and his visits to the former territorial areas for training and reintegration to reinforce trust with former combatants. These welcome efforts should go hand in hand with additional progress in the implementation of the other aspects of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace, a set of interconnected and mutually dependent commitments to bring peace, security and development to communities affected by the conflict.
On 29 August, in a video statement, the former lead negotiator of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) to the Havana peace talks, “Iván Márquez”, announced a return to armed struggle under the name “FARC-EP,” arguing that the Colombian State had “betrayed” the peace agreement. Surrounded by approximately 20 individuals, including the 5 other former FARC-EP commanders against whom the Special Jurisdiction for Peace had already opened non-compliance verification procedures for failing to uphold their responsibilities under the peace agreement, he called upon FARC-EP dissidents to join the group and announced its intention to seek to coordinate efforts with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN).
The announcement was swiftly and emphatically rejected by all sectors of society, State institutions and the international community, including the Mission. The political party Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común (FARC) immediately rejected the announcement, reaffirmed its commitment to the peace agreement and initiated proceedings to expel from the party those appearing in the video. President Duque condemned the announcement, stating that it was a threat from a criminal group attempting to cover its illegal activities, including drug trafficking, under ideological justifications. He further affirmed that the Government would continue to support law-abiding former combatants. There were widespread expressions of support from different sectors for the vast majority of former FARC-EP leaders and combatants who remain committed to the peace process, and many calls for a reinvigorated implementation of the peace agreement as a whole. The Government, FARC party leaders and the Mission have since conducted visits to the reintegration areas, jointly in most cases, to help to reassure former combatants and reiterate their support for their reintegration efforts, including a visit led by President Duque to the former territorial area for training and reintegration in Miravalle (Caquetá Department) on 18 September.
Elections will be held on 27 October to elect 3,306 local and departmental officials, including governors, mayors and local council members, who will take office on 1 January 2020. A recent spike in attacks against candidates from parties across the political spectrum demonstrates the risks facing these first nationwide local elections since the entry into force of the peace agreement. In a report in September, the non-governmental Electoral Observation Mission confirmed 54 incidents of electoral violence since the closing of the registration of candidates on 27 July, comprising 7 killings, 5 attacks, 2 kidnappings and 40 threats. On 4 September, the Ombudsman’s Office issued an early warning identifying 418 municipalities (36 per cent of the total municipalities in Colombia) facing risks associated with the electoral process, due mainly to the presence of illegal armed groups.
On 26 August, under the leadership of the President of the National Committee of the National Council for Peace, Reconciliation and Coexistence, Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, 12 national political parties, including FARC, signed the National Pact for Political Culture and Non-Violence during the Electoral Campaign to reject violence and stigmatization and promote dialogue and political rights in the context of the upcoming elections. President Duque, who signed the Pact as a witness, noted that Colombians were able to come together when focusing on the interests of the nation. My Special Representative also signed as a witness. Efforts are under way to sign and implement similar pacts at the departmental and local levels, including through departmental and municipal councils on peace, reconciliation and coexistence.
On 20 July, the 2019/20 legislative session was inaugurated. President Duque and the new presidents of both chambers stressed the importance of working towards unity and national consensus. To date, the Government and members of Congress have presented more than 440 bills and constitutional reforms, some of which are related to key aspects of the peace agreement. I reiterate my call for all parties to ensure that any proposed reforms are the result of inclusive dialogue, that they are not applied retroactively and that they respect the spirit and integral nature of the peace agreement.
Congress is currently reviewing the bill on the national budget for 2020, which must be approved before 20 October. Although the proposal does not include a specific budget line on peace implementation, the Government included an annex describing planned expenditures for each chapter of the peace agreement. It is important to ensure that all ministries and entities entrusted with the implementation of the peace process receive adequate funding. I therefore welcome the inclusion of a 15 per cent increase for the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition in the proposed budget.
The implementation of the 16 development programmes with a territorial focus continues, with the Government reporting more than 650 community projects completed and more than 500 under way, benefiting communities affected by the conflict. The Obras por Impuestos programme, which permits companies to meet part of their tax obligations through infrastructure investments in conflict-affected regions, is also supporting the implementation of the development programmes.