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DiCarlo: Courage is essential to prevent differences – no matter how deep they are – from standing in the way of lasting peace in Colombia

16 Sep 2020 - 12:54

Event hosted by the Government of Colombia: "Two Years of the Implementation of the Peace with Legality Policy: a Commitment with Actions", Remarks by Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo

Good morning, and warm wishes from New York.  Thank you, President Duque, for the invitation to take part in this timely event, which   we   hope can help to advance the important work of consolidating peace in Colombia. 

I also extend my warm regards to the distinguished participants here today. Our collective presence is a reminder of the deep well of support that Colombians can rely upon in the international community as they press forward with this critical agenda.  

Mr. President, we meet two years into your administration and nearly four years since the signing and entry into force of the Final Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the former FARC-EP.

The Agreement was a watershed moment that opened an opportunity for the country to build a future free of the violence that marked its past.  It binds Colombians to an ambitious agenda for sustainable peace.

We are working closely with your Government and the former FARC-EP as well as with civil society and the institutions established as expressions of the peace process. For everyone the responsibilities are far reaching.  They demand the courage to prevent differences – no matter how deep they are –from standing in the way of lasting peace.  And I commend Colombians on the progress achieved this far.  Colombia’s success can be a source of hope and inspiration beyond its borders, especially in those corners of the world that continue to be ravaged by violent conflict.

The United Nations has proudly stood by Colombians since the beginning of the peace process. We recognize its many achievements – which have continued under your administration - and appreciate the faith placed by the Government and Colombians across the spectrum in the United Nations Verification Mission and the work of the broader UN system.

We were first-hand witnesses as the former FARC-EP laid down its weapons and turned a page on more than five decades of armed struggle.  We have seen with great encouragement how former combatants take steps – with the Government’s support – towards their social, economic and political reintegration.  They are now part of the democratic political life of Colombia.  And we acknowledge how the Government has worked hard to include former combatants in Colombia’s future.

In other areas of the Agreement we see the opportunity to support Colombia in addressing issues such as rural reform, political participation, transitional justice, and the problem of illicit drugs.  We are inspired every day by the unrelenting work of social leaders, women’s organizations, indigenous and Afro-Colombian and youth representatives in support of peace and reconciliation in Colombia. They are  a testament to the resilience and creativity – on the part of the Government, the former combatants, civil society and others - that have been required to secure these tangible gains of peace.

Still, we are reminded of the difficult path ahead.

We remain deeply concerned about the insecurity affecting the lives of too many Colombians in conflict-affected areas of the country, notwithstanding the overall reduction in violence brought about by the peace process.   We condemn the violence by illegal armed groups that has continued unabated even amid a global health crisis. The killings and threats against social leaders, former combatants, women and young people are a threat to peace.  We acknowledge the efforts by Colombian authorities, communities and local leaders to address this serious challenge. We all recognize more needs to be done.

In keeping with the Secretary-General's call for a global ceasefire, we appeal again to armed groups to stop the violence in order to give respite to suffering populations and to facilitate efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let me stress that Colombia is not alone in facing the difficult task of coming to terms with the past. The Peace Agreement charts out an innovative path based on transitional justice.  Its key promise is to place the rights of victims at the forefront. 

For it to be able to fulfill this promise, full respect and support for the bodies that form the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition will be critical.  Equally important is the full commitment of the actors who took part in the conflict to truth and the acknowledgment of responsibility.

Let me also highlight the pathbreaking extent to which Colombia’s peace process reflects the critical role of women in peacebuilding. This is timely, as we approach next month the twentieth anniversary of landmark Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.  I salute the work of women in government, state institutions and civil society who are playing leadership roles in their communities, and I urge all efforts to ensure the full realization of the gender provisions of the Agreement.

Let me conclude by thanking you, President Duque, again for this opportunity to be with you today as well as for your commitment and that of the officials of your government.  We look forward to continuing our close cooperation and partnership.  We realize that definitively ending the cycles of violence in Colombia and building lasting peace can only be achieved with efforts over time. 

However, this future will be built upon the foundations set now. 

As you continue to implement the Peace Agreement, you can rest assured of the continued support of the United Nations. 

Thank you