United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/1090)


I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2603 (2021), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, and Council resolution 2366 (2017), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the mandate of the Mission every 90 days. The present report covers the period from 25 September 2021 to 27 December 2021.

II. Major developments

2. The reporting period was marked by the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace. The weeks leading up to and following the anniversary on 24 November provided an opportunity for actors engaged in peacebuilding efforts and for Colombian society at large to discuss the Final Agreement and its implementation. The Government, former Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) combatants, State institutions, civil society, academia and the international community carried out commemorative events throughout the country, taking stock of progress, challenges and perspectives for the future.

3. I visited Colombia on 23 and 24 November 2021 to take part in the important cycle of activities marking the anniversary. In Bogotá, I attended commemorative events and held meetings with the President, Ivan Duque, and officials of his Government, leaders of the Comunes party, the heads of the transitional justice system, leaders of civil society and victims of the armed conflict. I also travelled to the department of Antioquia, where I visited a former territorial area for training and reintegration in which former FARC-EP combatants in the reintegration process are working closely with communities, as well as another municipality in which the Government is implementing development programmes with a territorial focus created under the Final Agreement. Throughout the visit, I conveyed a message of recognition of historic progress, acknowledged the major challenges that remain and encouraged Colombians to stay the course with the comprehensive implementation of the Final Agreement in order to fulfil its promise of lasting peace.

4. In October, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, closed the preliminary examination on Colombia, active since 2004, citing the progress made in the transitional justice process as an important factor. Additionally, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the President signed a cooperation agreement, whereby the Government commits to continue supporting the judiciary’s efforts, including those of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, to investigate and prosecute those responsible for crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The agreement recalls that the International Criminal Court may reconsider its decision in case of significant changes in circumstances that might hamper relevant proceedings and provides for constant communication between the International Criminal Court, the Government and judicial actors. Prosecutor Khan asked all actors to extend their support to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace , and President Duque said that the decision reflects compliance by Colombia with international obligations.

5. Preparations for the 2022 congressional and presidential elections continue. According to the National Civil Registry, 2,835 candidates (1,131 women) are running for 108 seats in the Senate and 188 in the House of Representatives, to be elected in March, including the 16 special transitional electoral districts for peace. Regarding presidential elections, with its first round scheduled for May 202 2, political actors continue defining alliances and candidacies, and some have included the implementation of the Final Agreement within their platforms.

6. Discussions are ongoing in Congress regarding draft bills to implement the Final Agreement, including one on a dedicated judicial mechanism for the resolution of land-related disputes, which previously failed to pass. Meanwhile, initiatives to reform the Final Agreement have been withdrawn or failed to pass, such as those seeking to eliminate or reform the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, reforms to the land restitution process, and the reduction of the number of seats in Congress. Discussions regarding the ratification of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, which the Government presented to Congress, are pending.

7. In November, the Government of the United States of America revoked its designation of the former Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) guerrilla as a terrorist organization, recognizing its laying down of arms under the Final Agreement, and noting this change would permit increased support for the peace process, including for the reintegration of former combatants. At the same time, the Government of the United States designated two dissident FARC-EP groups as terrorist organizations, including their leaders who have either refused to lay down their arms or abandoned the peace process.