In this decisive period of its history, Colombia has France’s fraternal support [fr]
Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 23 January 2019
I would first like to thank Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, for his very informative briefing on the outstanding work of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia. Allow me to take this opportunity to again pay tribute to his predecessor, Mr. Jean Arnault, for his exemplary commitment. I also welcome the presence among us of Mr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, and Mr. Emilio Archila, High Counsellor for Post-Conflict.
The attack on 17 January was a shock. At a time when all Colombians long for lasting peace, that terrorist act claimed the lives of 20 innocent people and injured more than 60 people. On behalf of France, I would like to reiterate our strongest condemnation of the attack, as expressed by President Macron. The Colombian people can count on the unfailing friendship and solidarity of the French people in this trial and in the face of terrorism. To overcome it, unity must prevail more than ever, including within the Security Council.
At this time of sadness and suffering, we must remember the tremendous hope generated by the peace process between the Colombian Government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejercito del Pueblo (FARC-EP) and that, together, we have the responsibility to uphold it. Disarmed, the former FARC-EP guerrillas are now full-fledged political actors, while the former combatants have expressed their desire to regain their rightful place in Colombian society.
More than two years after the signing of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace, three points deserve special attention, in our view. The security situation in former conflict zones in Colombia is emerging as the absolute top priority at the start of this year. In the past two weeks, the murders of at least seven human rights defenders have been confirmed. Make no mistake, that phenomenon, which we have pointed out at previous open Council meetings, is not an accident. It is taking on such proportions that it is clearly a strategy of terror and should be combated as such. We are compelled to conclude that the high level of violence in former conflict-affected areas, which has not spared former FARC-EP combatants, is eroding confidence in the peace process.
We welcome the Colombian Government’s initiatives, in particular the action plan for protecting civil-society leaders, human rights defenders and journalists. With departmental and municipal elections coming up in October, we must redouble our efforts. The success of that democratic exercise will depend on the degree of security provided for the women and men willing to make a political commitment to contributing to the vitality of Colombian democracy. The two are inextricably linked.
The economic reintegration of former combatants is another priority for 2019. France has regularly encouraged the Colombian authorities to invest in this process so as to give former combatants a genuine chance to reintegrate into Colombian society, and that will unquestionably be the deciding factor in the peace Agreement’s success. In that regard, we hope that long-term solutions will be found for former combatants currently residing in regrouping and reintegration zones. The crucial issue of access to land must not be ignored in the process of economic reintegration. The productive projects currently under way demonstrate the close link between this issue and a sustainable development policy. We encourage the Colombian Government to continue its ongoing steps to ensure the full implementation of the decree adopted in June last year.
Lastly, particular attention must be paid to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. The Colombian peace process has established a unique system of transitional justice based on cooperation with the Jurisdiction by all the parties to the conflict. Only when they cooperate and continue to do so will Colombia be able to shed light on the crimes committed during that period, including those against women, who are often the first victims of violence. In addition to the commitment to cooperation of all parties to the conflict, respect for decisions having the authority of res judicata will also be vital to preserving the legitimacy of that pillar of the peace process. France therefore calls on all political actors, regardless of their affiliation, to reaffirm the independence of the Jurisdiction at every opportunity, as it guarantees legal security for the women and men who have had the courage to lay down their weapons.
The Colombian peace process deserves our full admiration and is also a profound source of inspiration for the United Nations and the Council. The United Nations stands resolutely with Colombia in urging it to write a historic new chapter on the establishment of lasting peace for the entire Colombian people. Colombia will always have the fraternal support of France in this decisive period of its history.