Colombia

United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2020/943)

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I. Introduction

  1. 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 June to 25 September 2020.

II. Major developments

  1. On 7 August, in an address, marking the second anniversary of his administration, the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, took stock of progress in implementing the three pillars of his Government’s national development plan: entrepreneurship, equity and legality. Reporting on peace-related matters, the Presidential Counsellor for Stabilization and Consolidation stated that the Government’s efforts had focused on strengthening planning, diversifying funding sources and carrying out actions to comply with the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace, in particular regarding the reintegration of former Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) members, development programmes with a territorial focus, stabilization, victims and substitution of illicit crops. Meanwhile, civil society and political actors, including the FARC party, have continued to voice concerns regarding the Government’s approach to the Final Agreement, including that the pace of implementation is slow, that there is insufficient use of the institutions created by the Agreement and that implementation is not comprehensive.

  2. President Duque also presented his Government’s efforts to respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which as at 25 September has caused 798,317 cases and 25,103 COVID-related deaths. President Duque announced a “New commitment for Colombia”, a strategy to overcome the effects of the pandemic, which is focused on five pillars: recovery of employment; clean and sustainable growth; commitment to the poorest and most vulnerable; commitment to rural Colombia and peace with legality; and health. The strategy will require investments of an estimated 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

  3. A new period of Congressional sessions began on 20 July. To date, political parties and the national Government have introduced more than 700 draft bills and proposed constitutional reforms, including some addressing pending issues related to the Agreement. For instance, a draft reform to the electoral code is currently under discussion, as well as initiatives to extend the applicability of the Victims and Land Restitution Act until 2031. The Peace and Human Rights Commissions of both chambers of Congress have continued to discuss the security situation in various regions and the continued violence against social leaders and former FARC-EP combatants.

  4. In August, Congress elected the new Ombudsman and Inspector General. Both institutions play key roles in Colombia’s peacebuilding efforts. Carlos Camargo took office on 1 September as the new Ombudsman for a period of four years, and Margarita Cabello will assume office as the new Inspector General in January 2021, also for four years.

  5. In July, the Government introduced before Congress its draft general national budget for 2021, which must be approved by 20 October. While there is no specific budget line for peace-related matters, the Government included an annex to the bill on peacebuilding expenditure. According to the Government, peace-related investments will increase by 9 per cent as compared with 2020. However, the Government’s proposal includes cuts in the investment budgets of entities key to the implementation of the Final Agreement, such as the National Land Agency, the Territorial Renewal Agency and the Rural Development Agency. The draft budget provides for a 10 per cent increase for the components of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition. In September, Congress passed a new law authorizing peace-related funds from mineral royalties forecast for the next 10 years to be used in the implementation of development programmes with a territorial focus in 2021 and 2022. Opposition parties, including FARC, have countered that funding remains insufficient, and that resources that should be used exclusively for the implementation of the Agreement are being used for other purposes.

  6. In August, the Office of the Comptroller-General presented to Congress its fourth report on the use of resources in the implementation of the Final Agreement, with a focus on 2019. While it was noted in the report that the use of resources in 2019 had been higher than in previous years, on average, reaching 83 per cent, it was also signalled that, at the current level of expenditure, implementation would take at least 25 years, as opposed to the 15 years initially planned.

  7. Departmental and municipal authorities adopted their development plans. FARC members, including many women former combatants, engaged proactively in the preparation of many of the plans. According to the Agency for Reintegration and Normalization, 25 departments and 166 municipalities have included specific reintegration indicators in their development plans. Security guarantees-related matters were included in at least 17 departmental plans, in particular regarding protection of social leaders and human rights defenders. Several plans include actions related to the Final Agreement, such as the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparations and Non-Repetition, the National Comprehensive Programme for the Substitution of Illicit Crops and the development programmes with a territorial focus.

  8. On 4 August, the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the preventive house arrest of the former President and Senator, Álvaro Uribe, as part of an investigation on charges of procedural fraud and witness tampering during his term as Senator. On 18 August, Uribe resigned from the Senate, after which jurisdiction for the investigation passed from the Supreme Court to the Office of the Attorney-General. The case led to heightened polarization and caused strong reactions in various sectors of Colombian society.

  9. Following the death of a man in police custody in Bogotá on 9 September, demonstrators in Bogotá and other cities protested police abuses and called for reform. Violence, looting and confrontations with public security forces broke out in several places. As many as 13 people have died, and some 300 others and dozens of police officers were injured.