Statement to the Security Council by Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia Jean Arnault

11 Sep 2017

Statement to the Security Council by Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia Jean Arnault

New York, 6 September 2017. Mr President, Distinguished Members of the Council, I am grateful for the opportunity to brief you on the implementation of your resolution 2366 of 10 July 2017 that decided to establish, at the request of the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, to begin its activities in two weeks, on 26 September.

But prior to doing so, let me underline what is, politically speaking, the culminaton of the ceasefire, cessation of hostilities and weapons laydown process that has unfolded since the signing of the Final Peace Agreement on 24 November of last year, namely the formal transformation, after 53 years of armed conflict, of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People´s Army into a political party, whose founding congress took place in Bogota two weeks ago.

The Congress,which elected the party’s new leadership and executive secretariat and adopted its political platform, took place exactly one year after the declaration of the bilateral and definitive ceasefire on 2 29 August 2016. This gives us a measure of the momentous developments that have taken place in the past 12 months, and the intense political will that was required from both sides to drive this process forward. Your resolution requested that the current mission should begin provisional verification activities anticipated by the Verification Mission, and you will soon receive, together with this Mission’s last report, our initial verification of the FARC reintegration and the implementation of security guarantees in areas hardest hit by the armed conflict.

Your resolution also requested that we initiate preparations now, including on the ground, to ensure the smoothest possible transition to the Verification Mission. Allow me therefore to supplement the Secretary-General’s report on the size, operational aspects and mandate of the new mission with a summary of measures taken since 10 July to fulfill your request. These include:

  • The establishment at all levels – local, regional and national – of transitional teams with civilian personnel and observers, who began verification related to the new mission’s mandate.
  • The identification of staffing needs for the next mission, and the advertisement of priority positions pending approval of the Secretary-General’s report by the Security Council, and the decisions of the General Assembly.
  • The careful selection of observers from the current mission who would be retained for the upcoming mission so as to ensure adequate representation of current contributing countries. In doing so, we have placed special emphasis on retaining women observers with both military and police background. This will ensure an unprecedented percentage of women among the observers of the Verification Mission.
  • A deployment plan has been finalized that ensures an appropriate skill set, geographical distribution and gender balance at local, regional and national level.
  • Reconnoissance visits are taking place to all prospective teamsites and sub-offices, in particular with a view to identifying possible areas of co-location with the UN Country Team.
  • Potential logistics contractors have been contacted in connection with the new Mission’s transport and accommodation needs.
  • Request was made to UN Headquarters for a series of exemptions and measures to facilitate the smooth transition between the two missions.
  • Finally, in response to your call for coordination with the UN system, we have already put in place the joint Working Groups on reintegration and security guarantees between the Mission 4 and the UN Country Team to ensure full consistency between the implementation and the verification sides of the UN in Colombia.

Although the time frame was tight, the sum total of these efforts carried out under your authority have put us on track to start the Verification Mission on time. It will be in a position to fulfil its tasks on day one of its mandate.

One pending issue is the settlement of accounts deriving from the cost-sharing arrangements between the UN and the Government of Colombia related to the operation of the tripartite Monitoring and Verification Mechanism. In cooperation with the Colombian Government, United Nations Headquarters and the Mission are working toward resolving outstanding issues before the completion of our Mission´s mandate.

Mr President, Distinguished Members of the Council,

As you are aware, last week, on 4 September, the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN according to its Spanish acronym) reached agreement on a temporary ceasefire that would start on 1 October and end on 12 January 2018. The ceasefire should be accompanied by a series of measures aimed at improving the humanitarian situation of communities in the conflict areas. The agreement provides that the UN would assist with the verification of 5 the commitments made. I met with both heads of delegations who have confirmed their interest in the UN´s involvement; and members of the Mission have engaged with the Technical Commission on the Ceasefire. Further discussions starting this week will hopefully enable the Secretary-General to make recommendations to you in the very near future.

Mr President, Distinguished members of the Council,

In the past few days, before millions of Colombians assembled in several cities, Pope Francis delivered a strong message in favour of reconciliation, forgiveness and confidence in the future to a society that bears the scars of decades of conflict, and struggles to imagine a Colombia free from ubiquitous, relentless violence.

Thankfully, over the past months the peace process between the Government and FARC-EP has slowly but steadily tipped the scales in favour of hope. We trust that the presence of the UN Mission, the work of the UN system, and the support of the Security Council can and should shore up further the confidence of Colombian society in the stable peace to which its citizens so ardently aspire.