Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on the Situation in Colombia
Statement21 April 2021
Thank you Mr President, and I want to thank the SRSG, dear Carlos, for your continued hard work and that of your team.
And it is great to see you Minister Blum – good to see you again with us. Minister, I want to pay tribute to the tireless efforts that your Government and the people of Colombia are making to build peace. We know this requires determination and persistence right across society and the political system. We are heartened by the considerable progress made. We reiterate our strong support to all parties as they work towards full implementation of the agreement.
Mr President, I would like to make three points this afternoon.
First, we share the concerns expressed at the persistent levels of violence in some parts of the country. Over the reporting period, the number of former combatants, social leaders and Human Rights Defenders who have been killed has worryingly increased further. We recognise the concerted efforts the government is making to protect those targeted. But, the urgency of curbing this violence, including that faced by indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, cannot be overstated. We urge the Colombian Government to work in key affected municipalities to establish its presence and build trust with communities.
Reports of child recruitment by illegal organisations and recent reports of children killed in cross fire are also of deep concern.
Holding those responsible for violence to account is critical in building trust and sustaining peace.
While we note the progress recorded in the implementation of the gender chapters, more work needs to be done to ensure the full implementation of gender and ethnic provisions across all chapters of the agreement.
We reiterate our support to the Special Forum on Gender and all entities working to secure justice and equality. We also encourage continuing efforts to combat gender-based violence.
My second point, Mr President, is the crucial role constructive dialogue plays in building trust and maintaining momentum particularly at this critical juncture. That is why the recent meeting between President Duque and Rodrigo Londoño, that you helped facilitate Carlos, was so important – such a positive development.
We encourage both parties to continue working together on the proposed implementation roadmap. We also urge that the progress in the meeting carries through to the important platform for dialogue and partnership provided by the Commission for the Follow-Up, Promotion and Verification of the Final Agreement.
My final point, Mr President, relates to transitional justice and the proposed expansion of the mandate of the Verification Mission.
Investment in peace is not just a financial or administrative concern. The most vital investment in peace is belief; it’s trust.
Transitional justice, centred on victims, and with the full participation of women, is the bedrock for Colombia’s own future. 2021 is the decisive year for both Colombia’s transitional justice system and the Truth Commission. We have already seen important progress in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace on cases 1 and 3.
It is now crucial that former combatants, members of the public security forces and third parties to the conflict provide exhaustive and truthful accounts of crimes committed, that they recognise their responsibilities and contribute to reparations. The Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-repetition provides the framework needed. It is a real demonstration of this precious and innovative peace agreement in action. All those who engage with the system need to be protected.
Ireland welcomes the proposed expansion of the Mission’s mandate and looks forward to the Council adopting the resolution as soon as possible. The UN’s independent verification of the restorative sentences can help bolster trust in the system for victims.
As I conclude, I wish to take a moment to applaud the decision by the Colombian government to grant temporary protection status to Venezuelan refugees and migrants, a response based on common humanity and deep respect for human rights. The generosity of Colombia serves as an example to the world and demonstrates to us all, that we really do – as the Irish language proverb says - live in each other’s shelter.