Presenting the latest quarterly report by the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, which covers the period from 27 September to 26 December 2023, he expressed hope that this year will be a decisive one for peace.
“Despite the many serious challenges this country still faces in extinguishing the embers of an armed conflict that has lasted more than six decades, it is an immense privilege and opportunity for the United Nations to be in this position to assist the Colombian Government and people in their drive to consolidate peace,” he said.
Speed up commitment
Mr. Ruiz Massieu reported that last year showed evidence of the clear links between the implementation of the peace accord and initiatives taken by the authorities to hold dialogues with other armed groups.
He underscored the need to move forward in these processes, emphasizing the opportunity to speed up commitments on ethnic issues and land reform.
“Translating the eagerly awaited public policy for the dismantling of illegal armed groups and criminal organizations…into tangible emphatic action whose results will be felt by the populations on the ground will be another fundamental step in this necessary transition between making plans and implementing them,” he added.
Attacks on ethnic communities
Although “security is the basis of the successful development of any peace initiative”, he pointed to developments that have sparked concern such as the recent killing of four FARC-EP ex-combatants. He also condemned “unjustifiable attacks” against indigenous communities and people laying claim to land.
“The situation in certain zones of departments such as Cauca, which is characterized by significant presence of indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples, is particularly challenging as a consequence of the presence and actions of various armed actors,” he said.
“It is precisely in areas such as these where there is a need for comprehensive State presence to slow and contain the violence.”
Commitment to peace
Encouraged by the continued commitment to peace by the vast majority of former FARC-EP members, he expressed confidence that Government efforts, such as a recently established reintegration programme, will meet their needs and expectations.
Mr. Ruiz Massieu also noted “positive progress” in the dialogue between the Government and the largest remaining rebel group, ELN, as well as developments such as their bilateral ceasefire, which began in August.
Similarly, he welcomed progress made in the dialogue between the authorities and another group, the self-styled EMC FARC-EP. The sides signed a bilateral ceasefire in October that he said “has resulted in a necessary level of trust, which will allow the process to continue.”