United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2022/267)


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 28 December 2021 to 25 March 2022.

II. Major developments

2 . The reporting period was marked by an election campaign and congressional elections, held on 13 March. Colombians elected a new Congress for the 2022–2026 period, which will be inaugurated on 20 July. These were the second congressional elections since the signing of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace and represented a significant milestone in its implementation: it was the first time that Colombians from the rural, conflict-affected areas of the country voted to elect representatives, all of them accredited as victims, for the 16 special transitional electoral districts for peace (see para. 13 below). Voter turnout was over 46 per cent, about the same as in 2018. The elections to Congress had the highest number of women candidates in the history of the country, 39.5 per cent of candidates were women, an increase from 34.5 per cent in 2018, and an increase in the number of women elected to Congress. On the same day, voters took part in primary elections to determine the presidential candidates for three different coalitions who will now participate, along with other individuals, in the first round of presidential elections scheduled for 29 May, with a second round planned for 19 June, if needed.

3 . Despite some security incidents, including the killing of two soldiers in the Meta and Caquetá departments, respectively, voting took place with few disruptions across the country. Only 3 out of the over 112,000 polling stations installed had to be relocated because of security issues. Nonetheless, during the campaign, threats and intimidations affected various candidates from across the political spectrum and prompted the national Government and electoral authorities to increase efforts to ensure safe elections for both voters and candidates, through measures such as the Democracy and Agora II plans.

4 . Controversy has arisen during the post-electoral process, regarding the counting of the votes and possible effects on the distribution of seats in the Senate, with several parties from across the spectrum raising concerns about the management of the electoral process by the National Civil Registry. This was the subject of a meeting of the National Commission for the Coordination and Follow-up of Electoral Processes (comprised of the Government, oversight bodies, electoral authorities and political parties). The counting is being finalized and the National Electoral Council is expected to declare the final results of the elections in the coming weeks.

5 . In March, representatives of 13 political parties signed a pact for non -violence during the elections promoted by the National Council for Peace, Reconciliation and Coexistence and civil society organizations. The signing ceremony was chaired by the President of Colombia, Iván Duque. In remarks delivered at the event, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, expressed hope that the message of the pact of upholding dialogue, tolerance and respect for life would endure beyond the elections.

6 . Violence continued in several of the regions prioritized for the implementation of the Final Agreement, affecting, among others, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in the Pacific region of the country. Also of note is the significant deterioration of security in Arauca department where, according to authorities, 116 persons were killed in the context of clashes and tensions between the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de ColombiaEjército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) dissident groups, and thousands of persons have been displaced and confined.

7 . In response to several writs of protection presented by former combatants from different regions, in January the Constitutional Court informed that it had declared an “unconstitutional state of affairs” regarding the guarantee of former combatants’ rights to life, physical integrity and peace. This is a judicial figure used to order measures to address a generalized violation of the fundamental rights of a specific group. In its decision, the Court determined that there is a low level of compliance with the implementation of security guarantee provisions of the Final Agreement.

8 . The Court ordered the Government to guarantee adequate resources for the protection of former combatants and those who appear before the transitional justice system; and to prioritize municipalities where they face greater risks. In addition, the Court ordered the Government to ensure the effective functioning of the Comprehensive Security System for the Exercise of Politics and the National Commission on Security Guarantees, both created by the Final Agreement, and also ordered strengthened efforts to prevent stigmatization and to include gender and ethnic considerations in security measures. The Court called upon Congress to adopt pending legislation regarding security guarantees. The Government has noted its disagreement with the Court’s assessment affirming that several of the Court’s orders reiterate measures already being implemented by government and State entities and, as a result, has recently asked the Court to nullify its decision.

9 . In addition, the Court upheld requests by civil society organizations and local communities who claimed that measures carried out by the Government to reactivate aerial spraying of illicit crops with glyphosate had overlooked the right to participation of communities potentially affected, including the right to prior consultation of ethnic communities. The Government has requested the Court to review and nullify its decision.