EL ESPECTADOR (Colombia), January 1, 2019
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
In an 18-page report, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, analyzed the last three months of implementation of the Peace Agreement. The killing of social leaders and members of the FARC continues to be one of the government’s principal challenges. On the other hand, he highlighted the advance of some productive projects carried out by the demobilized guerrillas.
This Monday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, presented his quarterly report on the UN’s Verification Mission in Colombia. Its main conclusion is that the government is still not paying enough attention to the territories that have been most affected by the armed conflict.
“As has been stated in previous reports, one of the most important challenges of the implementation is achieving a greater presence of the government and an urgent response to the demands of the communities for security, education, health, land, infrastructure and viable alternatives to the illegal economies” states the document.
Evidence of that is the human rights situation in areas like Catatumbo (Norte de Santander Province), Tumaco (Nariño Province) and the Chocó, where territorial clashes by illegal groups for control of drug routes, murder of social leaders, kidnapping and displacement are continuing.
Because of this situation, the government launched its “Peace with Rule of Law” plan, together with the 170 mayors of the areas most affected by the conflict. The goal is to reinforce democratic institutions in the regions, including a stabilization policy that would complement programs such as Development Plans with a Territorial Focus (PDET in Spanish). The United Nations Secretary praised that strategy, but warned that it had to be applied rapidly and effectively. “The dream of a lasting peace in Colombia depends on it,” Guterres emphasized.
In addition, the UN recognized the progress by the National Reintegration Council (CNR in Spanish) in setting up productive projects. “Altogether, 20 collective projects and 29 individual projects have been approved. In total, these projects are valued at USD 3.7 million and they will benefit a total of 1,340 demobilized guerrillas, including 366 women. Moreover, the United Nations Multi-Donor Post-Conflict Fund will support 15 projects to be carried out by the United Nations Development Program (PNUD in Spanish) and the International Organization for Migration (OIM in Spanish),” states the report in detail.
In spite of this progress in implementation, Guterres expressed his increasing concern about the continual increase in murders of social leaders and defenders of human rights. “Since the signing of the agreement in November of 2016, 163 murders have been verified and a total of 454 cases have been reported,” he said, emphasizing the statistics. Nevertheless, he pointed to the Timely Action Plan (PAO in Spanish) for Prevention and Protection, both individual and collective, for the rights to life, liberty and physical safety of human rights defenders, community and social leaders and journalists. The government launched this on November 19 as a strategy for reducing those numbers. He also insisted that the National Commission on Security Guarantees (CNGS in Spanish) be brought together to design strategies for dismantling the illegal organizations that are present in the territories and that are creating insecurity and panic in the communities.
Besides his concern about social leaders, the Secretary-General also stated that there are warnings in the 14 murders of demobilized guerrillas this year. “This situation also requires strengthening the systems and security strategies for the former fighters,” he stressed.
In this report the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of independent agencies such as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP in Spanish) and the Truth Commission, which commenced its operations on November 29. He asked, in addition, that the channels of dialog between the government and the ELN be kept open for an eventual negotiation between the parties. Finally, he took the opportunity to praise the work of Jean Arnault, who has left his position as Chief of the Verification Mission at the end of November, and welcomed Carlos Ruiz Massieu as his successor.