Statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Situation in Colombia
Statement12 April 2022
Thank you Madam President.
I would like to thank SRSG Ruiz Massieu for your briefing and your team for their dedicated work. I also wish to extend a warm welcome to you, President Duque to the Chamber. We recognise and commend the efforts of your Government towards the comprehensive implementation of the peace accord and to reconciliation in Colombia. We stand ready to support you and the incoming administration through the transition period and beyond to preserve gains made and continue implementation.
We meet in the wake of parliamentary elections in Colombia. Elections where – positively – the peace accord was not subject to debate. Where the majority of the voters could fulfil their democratic right in peace and security. Where for the first time citizens in conflict-affected areas in rural Colombia could elect representatives to 16 special transitional electoral districts for peace.
Ireland also welcomes the significant increase in representation for women in parliament. The election also saw the highest number of women candidates in Colombian electoral history.
We further welcome the agreement by the parties to extend the mandate of CSIVI until 2023 and encourage the full utilisation of this essential platform for dialogue.
We are concerned, however, at the threats, intimidation and political violence which affected some electoral candidates, and in particular women and members of the Afro-Colombian community. We condemn attempts by illegal armed groups to intimidate and interfere with the political process in some communities.
As we look forward to the Presidential elections, it is essential that both candidates and voters can take part in the exercise of democracy without fear of intimidation or violence.
The persistent violence in Colombia, continues to be of concern, particularly the levels of displacement, confinement, intimidation and targeted killings. The increasing impact on indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and their leaders is worrying. A further 40 social leaders and human rights defenders have been killed for standing up for their rights and the rights of their communities. These include Luz Marina Arteaga, a HRD from Meta, who was killed while awaiting protection measures. The attack on a police station in Bogotá on March 27, in which two children were killed, is also deeply deplorable.
These incidents clearly show the importance of the work of the National Commission on Security Guarantees to tackle illegal armed groups and provide a safe environment in Colombia. There can be no impunity for such crimes.
Security guarantees in the agreement are fundamental to the peace dividend for those who have laid down their arms to work for a peaceful Colombia. We note the recent determination by the Constitutional Court in relation to the protection of former combatants and the implementation of the security guarantee provisions of the peace agreement.
Ireland commends the victim-centred approach to reconciliation and truth that has been fostered in the Colombian Transitional Justice system.
We welcome the three new macro cases announced by the SJP and in particular, the commitment that all will address conflict-related sexual violence. We further welcome the announcement of public hearings on Case 01 and 03 to take place between April and June.
The full acknowledgement of responsibility and the recognition of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by those indicted - directly to victims of the conflict and their families and communities - will be a seismic moment for truth and reconciliation in Colombia.
Ireland also recognises the watershed moment presented by the publication this summer of the Truth Commission’s final report, which will contain testimonies from more than 27,000 victims. We know from our own past that such truths, while difficult to confront, open the space to build the stable peace and equal society that every Colombian deserves.
The Colombian peace accord remains an exemplar of what can be achieved when parties to a conflict dedicate themselves to peace, and put victims and a better future at the heart of all their efforts. I would like to recognise once again the work of President Duque and his administration in implementing the agreement. Ireland has stood with Colombia during the process to peace and during these first five years of implementation. We reaffirm our partnership and friendship for the important work ahead, and to realising the dream of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Colombia to the benefit of all its peoples.