The United Nations has extended its verification mission in Colombia to monitor the nation’s peace process implementation as an outside observer for another year.
The global organization’s Security Council, in adopting resolution 2435 (2018), has reaffirmed its “full commitment” to the peace process in Colombia for an additional year through September 15, 2019.
It also “expressed its willingness to work with the government to further extend the mandate of the Verification Mission, with the assent of all the parties involved,” said the United Nations in a statement.
Photo: In August 2017, the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, with security and logistical support from the Colombian Armed Forces and help from some members of the FARC-EP, cleared 750 of 998 FARC-EP arms caches. (Photo credit: United Nations)
The goal of the mission is to assess progress in the peace process with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, something that has been slow to come and clouded by the widespread killing of mostly left-leaning social activists. More than 300 people have been killed since the original peace deal was agreed upon in mid-2016.
“A subject of continuing concern for the [U.N.] Secretary-General is the increase in the number of killings of social leaders and human rights defenders, and the dynamics of violence that continues to affect mainly rural areas,” stated the secretary general in its most recent formal reported issued in July. “The Secretary-General highlights the indignation and repudiation of Colombian society against this wave of murders.”
The secretary general also noted the slow movement seen thus far in terms of the reintegration of former FARC combatants into Colombian society, a core component of the agreement.
“On the subject of reintegration,” stated the report, “the Secretary-General reiterated the importance of accelerating progress in the implementation of productive income-generating projects for ex-combatants..The challenge is to specify the access to land for ex-combatants in the Territorial Training and Reincorporation Spaces and other settlements. The Secretary-General also emphasizes the importance of closely linking reintegration activities with local development.”
Though some other areas have moved forward — including the creation of the Comprehensive Security and Protection Program — the lack of tangible results illustrates why many have become disillusioned with the peace process.
At least three high-ranking leaders of the now-demobilized FARC, which formally became a political party under the same acronym last year, were a no show at a recent political event, according to Medellín-based research organization Insight Crime.
The number of dissidents who have broken ties with the group to return to life as members of an armed faction is also on the rise, reports Insight Crime. There may now be more than 2,000 dissidents.
Though the peace accord, which was passed into law in late 2016 by the Congress after being signed by former President Juan Manuel Santos, was among the largest issues in the presidential campaign this spring.
New President Iván Marquez, however. has not taken significant action on this key topic since being sworn in on August 7. During the campaign, he pledged to make significant alterations to a deal that many conservatives and everyday Colombians have roundly rejected.
Nevertheless, the Secretary General, in its July report before Duque took office, said that it “applauds President-elect Iván Duque’s stated intention, following the presidential elections, to work to bridge divisions among Colombians.”
The United Nations verification mission, following its formal pledge of cooperation for another year, will now continue to hope to see reasons for optimism as the peace process navigates the rocky road ahead.
“The U.N. Verification Mission was established in July last year to verify the reintegration of former FARC-EP rebels into civilian life, as well as the security guarantees for former rebels, their families and wider community,” stated the United Nations.