Remarks by Ambassador Schulz during the Security Council VTC Meeting on Colombia, April 14, 2020

14.04.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Mr President, let me first of all extend a very warm welcome to Her Excellency, the Foreign Minister of Colombia, Claudia Blum. Let me also thank our two briefers for their very insightful and comprehensive briefings.

Mr President, let me start with the COVID-19 outbreak. We very much welcome the Colombian government's commitment to ensure continued implementation of peace-related programs in this difficult context. We also welcome the swift manner in which the government and the FARC have taken preventive actions for the former Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration (TATR). Balancing the consequences of COVID-19 is an extremely challenging task and the stakes are especially high with regards to the peace process.

It is therefore encouraging to hear that the implementation of the peace process is now also being pursued by a wide range of virtual meetings and conferences. At the same time, it is evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic will have consequences for the implementation of that process, and it is therefore all the more important to do everything possible to keep the political momentum alive and kicking. It is good to hear that Colombian actors are united in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the peace process, I would like to make three more specific points. First of all, on the security situation: in general, it remains worrying, especially in rural areas, as we also have heard today from our briefers. Social leaders and human rights defenders who support the peace agreement, indigenous leaders and women's rights defenders as well as former combatants continue to be at particular risk. We are very concerned about the recent killings that we have heard about today once again. We therefore fully concur with the Secretary General that no efforts must be spared to take those facing specific risks given their roles in the promotion of human rights, implementation for peace agreements and to those who laid down their weapons and remained committed to the peace process. So we would very much like to encourage the government to make full use of the existing bodies and institutions to ensure security for those individuals and their communities. It is crucial to extend the presence of state institutions to remote and conflict  affected areas in order to end impunity and create a secure and stable environment for all Colombians.

The second point on the reintegration of former FARC members: we very much welcome progress made in reaching consensus between the government and FARC on the reintegration roadmap, and we encourage the parties to continue to work jointly in the spirit of constructive dialogue during its implementation. Now that the transition of the former Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration is underway, the focus must shift towards ensuring the sustainability and comprehensive nature of the process. In that context, we would also like to recall that more than two thirds of all former combatants reside outside the former Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration, are thus facing even greater challenges in terms of security, basic services and productive opportunities. Now, my last point is about the support for the institutions of the peace agreement. The impressive work of the Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparations and Non-Repetition gives rise to hope that Colombia can overcome a deeply entrenched legacy of conflict and achieve true reconciliation. Its autonomy remains crucial, and we would like to echo the Secretary-General's call upon all actors to contribute fully to the system's work, including by being forthcoming with a contribution to truth and empathetic acknowledgement of the suffering of victims whose voices must indeed be at the center of the peace process.

Before concluding, let me say that we remain confident that Colombians can succeed in consolidating the peace that they have begun to build. It's fully comprehensive peace will, at the end of the day, have to include the ELN as well. In that context, we welcome the ELN's announcement of a one month unilateral ceasefire. And while we regret to note that violence continues in some regions, we nevertheless hope that this could be and will become a point of departure for future constructive engagement that leads to more confidence building measures and in the end to future negotiations. The international community will continue to assist Colombians to realize their aspirations for a more peaceful future. And we commend the key role that has been played by the UN mission and the UN agencies working in Colombia. 

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