While the first phase in implementing the recently agreed peace deal between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) remains largely on track, the “relatively short window of opportunity” to build a solid foundation for peace requires consistent vigilance, the United Nations envoy in that country told the Security Council today.
“This is precisely the juncture at which the international community – and this Council in particular – should voice its interest, its encouragement and its support for the parties and all those involved in the building of peace in Colombia,” said Jean Arnault, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in Colombia.
He added that the laying down of weapons, the reintegration of FARC-EP combatants and the delivery of peace dividends to those most affected by more than five decades of conflict would be particularly critical, he explained.
Mr. Arnault told the Council that two significant events had recently taken place, including the passing of legislation late last month on the Integral System of Justice, Truth and Reconciliation, a critical part of the Peace Agreement and the core of efforts to reconcile the rights of victims with the requirements of the transition from war to peace.
Moreover, earlier today, a Truth Commission and a Special Unit to search for disappeared persons had been established, as well as the Selection Committee to designate the magistrates of the Special Peace Jurisdiction and fill other vacancies.
Describing other important developments, he said that Felipe Gonzalez, a former Prime Minister of Spain, and Jose Mujica, former President of Uruguay had been appointed to the Peace Agreement's international verification component. Additionally, progress had been made in separating minors from the FARC and in eradicating the illegal drug economy, he said, adding that Oscar Naranjo, a retired police general, had assumed the vice-presidency.
Mr. Arnault went on to outline strides made by the UN Mission, noting that the process of identifying, marking and registering weapons handed over by the FARC is nearly complete. The Mission had also met with the FARC to draw up a detailed plan for the collection and destruction of weapons located in arms caches that were difficult to reach.
Despite those positive developments, however, concerns had been raised about the slow pace of implementation in a number of sensitive areas mentioned in the Secretary-General's latest report, he said. In March, the parties had made important and detailed commitments to accelerate implementation in those areas and in adopting the Peace Agreement's legislative agenda.
“Like the parties, we believe that, while the consolidation of peace will be a long-term process, there is a relatively short window of opportunity to establish solid foundations for it,” he said. That could be achieved through laying down weapons, reintegrating FARC combatants and delivering peace dividends to the most affected people and areas, he added.