Colombia

United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/824)

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Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2574 (2021), by which the Council extended and expanded 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 present report covers the period from 26 June 2021 to 24 September 2021.

Major developments

2. As the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace between the Government of Colombia and the former Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) approaches, coinciding with President Iván Duque’s last year in office and with the last year of congressional sessions of the 2018 –2022 term, a major milestone in its implementation was reached in August 2021. Following submission by Congress pursuant to a Constitutional Court ruling, President Duque enacted the law creating the 16 special transitional electoral districts for peace. These new seats in the House of Representatives are intended to allow for the participation of historically excluded populations in conflict-affected regions. The transitional electoral districts will be in force for the 2022–2026 and 2026–2030 congressional periods.

3. The reporting period was marked by an increase in the preparations for the 2022 congressional and presidential elections, which will be the second national elections held since the signing of the Final Agreement. State entities have begun working on their areas of responsibility to ensure a smooth electoral process.

4. The Government’s priorities for its last legislative period include a new tax reform, which was enacted in September, and changes to the National Police. Other key legislation for the implementation of the Final Agreement and related issues are still to be presented to, and enacted by, Congress, including the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Escazú Agreement, which has been signed but not ratified. Opposition parties have presented draft bills related to the recent national strike, on issues such as economic reactivation, an emergency basic income, guarantees for peaceful protest and police reforms. Different political parties also filed several draft bills that would implement pending provisions of the Final Agreement, including one that previously failed to pass in Congress, on a dedicated judicial mechanism for the resolution of land-related disputes. Parties within the Government coalition have presented draft bills seeking to reform the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, the land restitution process and citizen participation.

5. The Government’s draft national budget for 2022 presented to Congress in August, to be approved in October, includes an annex on peacebuilding expenditures. According to the proposal, peace-related funding would increase by 3.8 per cent compared with 2021. However, funding would decrease for parts of the Final Agreement, including the solution to the problem of illicit drugs, and for elements related to the Office of the Attorney General and the National Protection Unit. Cuts would also affect public entities with key peace implementation responsibilities, such as the Agency for Reintegration and Normalization, the National Land Agency, and the Territorial Renewal Agency. The draft budget provides increases for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Unit for the Search for Persons deemed Missing in the context of and due to the armed conflict, while funds for the Truth Commission were not included, pending a decision on the extension of its mandate (see para. 68).

6. In August, the Office of the Comptroller General presented to Congress its fifth report on the use of funding in the implementation of the Final Agreement, from signing and until March 2021. In the report, it was highlighted that peace -related expenditures have grown, on average, by 5 per cent annually since the signing of the Final Agreement, and that from 2017 to 2020, an average of 65 per cent of allocated resources were spent. Nevertheless, in the report it was also noted that the allocated resources have never been fully spent and, at the current pace, it is estimated that implementation of the Final Agreement would take 26 years, as opposed to 15 years as originally planned.

7. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace continues to make progress in cases under its jurisdiction. During the reporting period, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace issued its first two indictments on Case 03, on killings and forced disappearances presented as casualties in combat by State agents, against 25 former and active members of the public security forces (including one former general and four former colonels) and one civilian third party. Charges include war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace found that crimes were carried out systematically in the Catatumbo region, and in Cesar and La Guajira Departments. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace has identified 271 victims in those regions and the impact of the crimes has disproportionately affected indigenous communities. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace gave the indicted parties 30 working days to acknowledge their responsibility or present their observations and ordered them to present a plan to help locate missing persons.