- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2487 (2019), by which the Council extended 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 implementation of the mandate of the Mission every 90 days. The report covers the period from 27 December 2019 to 26 March 2020.
II. Major contextual developments
Efforts by newly inaugurated regional and local administrations to incorporate peace implementation into their governing agendas were a key feature of the reporting period. On 1 January 2020, all 32 new governors, of whom two are women, over 1,100 new mayors, of whom 131 are women, and departmental assemblies and municipal councils took office throughout Colombia, following the October 2019 departmental and local elections, the first since the signing of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace. Governors and mayors have begun the process of crafting their departmental and local development plans, which will guide their priorities for the next four years. The Government has been working with them to encourage local and regional ownership of peace-related programmes. In several regions, former members of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) have been taking part in these participatory processes for the formulation of regional and local development plans. Through visits by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia to departmental capitals and conflict-affected regions, and the permanent efforts of the Mission’s offices in the field, the Mission has also engaged proactively with the new authorities and offered its support on matters related to reintegration and security guarantees.
In February 2020, the Office of the Presidential Counsellor for Stabilization and Consolidation hosted a meeting, attended by over 170 mayors and 21 governors, to discuss the Government’s implementation of programmes derived from the peace agreement. During an assembly convened by the National Federation of Departments, all 32 governors welcomed the Government’s proposal to create a peace office within each departmental government, responsible for coordinating and leading peace-related policy in the territories. On 20 February, the Mayor of Bogotá, who is the first woman elected to the position, co-organized a meeting with civil society movements that brought together governors and mayors from different regions to launch the National Network of Local Authorities for Peace, in support of the implementation of the peace agreement. The Mission, along with the guarantor countries that serve as observers to the Commission, continued to encourage greater use of that forum.
On 12 February, the Government and the National Strike Committee, constituted during the protests of November 2019, met for the seventh time but did not reach an agreement on the way forward regarding the list of demands made by the Committee on matters including guarantees for the exercise of the right to social protest, social, political, economic and human rights, anti-corruption efforts and peace, as well as the implementation of previous agreements signed with social movements. Some protests continued to take place during the reporting period. The Committee had called for protests on 25 March, but they were suspended owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The national conversation launched in November 2019 by President Duque in response to the protests has continued, with a focus on six issues: inclusive growth, transparency and the efforts to combat corruption, education, the “Peace with Legality” government strategy, the environment and young people. The Mission was invited to participate in all four meetings on “Peace with Legality”, during which various actors voiced their concerns and made proposals on topics related to the implementation of the peace agreement, including the reintegration of former combatants, security guarantees for social leaders and communities, comprehensive rural reform, transitional justice and victims.
On 30 January 2020, Francisco Barbosa, who was serving as Presidential Counsellor for Human Rights, was appointed Attorney General. He defined his priorities as strengthening investigations into attacks against social leaders, human rights defenders and former combatants; fighting criminal structures, drug trafficking and corruption; and enhancing the territorial presence of the Office of the Attorney General. He also provided assurances that he would respect the autonomy of th e Special Jurisdiction for Peace, and on 3 February he met with its President, Patricia Linares, who presented him with a proposal for joint work. On 17 February, Martha Mancera, the Director of the Special Investigation Unit, which is in charge of investigating attacks against social leaders and former FARC-EP combatants, was designated Deputy Attorney General.
In March, the Government of Colombia intensified preventive measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including declaring a state of emergency, closing the borders and ordering a countrywide quarantine from 24 March to 13 April. President Duque also announced that the Government would allocate additional resources for the public health system and social welfare programmes. As at 22 March, the Ministry of Health had confirmed 277 cases of COVID-19 across the country, with two deaths. On 17 March, the Presidential Counsellor for Stabilization and Consolidation stated that the Government would be taking the necessary measures to ensure that the implementation of peace-related programmes could continue, despite the challenges resulting from the outbreak.