The Peace Agreement must be the beginning of a new era in Colombia [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 19 April 2018
We are all in a state of shock following the death of our colleague and friend Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue. On behalf of France and on a personal level, I want to once again express our heartfelt condolences and deep sympathy to his family, friends and all the members of the Permanent Mission of Côte d’Ivoire. The United Nations has lost a great professional, Côte d’Ivoire an excellent representative, and France a friend whose limitless kindness will continue to inspire us.
I thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Jean Arnault for his very informative briefing, as well as for his commitment and exemplary effort. I also thank the Vice-President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia for their presence here today and their tireless work in negotiating and implementing the Peace Agreement concluded with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP).
On behalf of France, I would like to once again pay tribute here to the political courage of the Colombian authorities, which took the initiative of launching the historic peace process with FARC-EP. Colombia’s commitment to peace is a source of inspiration for us all, as the Ambassador of Ethiopia so eloquently said earlier. The United Nations, in general, and the Security Council, in particular, have played their full roles in providing the necessary support for the disarmament and political transition of that armed group. Since September 2017 that support has been manifested through ensuring the monitoring of the reintegration of former combatants, which is a crucial step towards the lasting implementation of the peace agreement. With regard to the mandate for the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, the Organization’s second Mission to that country, I will briefly underscore three points.
First, France congratulates the Colombian authorities on the organization and successful holding of the 11 March congressional elections, which the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común (FARC), the new political party that resulted from the peace process, participated in. Colombian institutions and the Peace Agreement have been strengthened by that democratic exercise, as a result of which former combatants will become members of the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives. The opening of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to the public also represents a significant step towards the political reintegration of former combatants. We encourage the current Government and, more generally, all of the country’s political groups, to consolidate the progress made and move forward towards the full implementation of the Peace Agreement between Colombia and FARC-EP. Particular attention should be given to the issue of amnesty for prisoners, as provided for in the Agreement.
My second point concerns the security of the women and men who are working to bring peace to the conflict-affected areas. We welcome the steps taken by the Colombian Government to end the high level of violence in those areas, in particular the murders of civil-society leaders, human rights defenders and people involved in coca substitution programmes. Despite the commitment of the authorities, the situation remains worrisome. The local populations have not seen much evidence of the peace dividends. We therefore encourage efforts to deploy State services to those areas, whether through security forces or civil institutions. It will also be crucial to combat impunity for crimes committed within the context of the conflict, including extrajudicial executions, whether by investigating the perpetrators of such crimes or those who ordered violent acts.
Lastly, I would once again like to draw attention to a critical point related to reintegration and the future of the peace process, which is access to land and sources of income. Once the issue of access to land, including the restitution of land that was seized during the conflict and is under legal proceedings, has been settled, it is economic projects that will provide former combatants with the prospect of a future within the Colombian national community. Such economic reintegration will be key to the lasting success of the peace process. It will continue to enjoy broad support from the international community, including France and the European Union, through various financial instruments. Ensuring peace in territories that have been ravaged by conflict for more than 50 years depends on it.
France, which supported President Santos Calderón’s efforts to achieve peace from the beginning, hopes that the Peace Agreement between the Colombian Government and FARC-EP will be recorded in history as the end of a conflict and the beginning of a new era in Colombia in which former combatants will have their place in Colombian society and other groups will follow the example of FARC. We hope that the Colombian Government and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional will reach a new ceasefire as soon as possible and that negotiations will enable the achievement of a historic peace in Colombia that will send an exemplary message of hope to the world.