Security Council Briefing: Colombia

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York

New York, 26 July 2018

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Let me begin by thanking Special Representative Jean Arnault for his insightful and comprehensive briefing, and for the important work that the UN Verification Mission does in support of the peace agreement in Colombia. Please be assured of our continued full support for your efforts.

Let me furthermore welcome Vice President Naranjo to this Council. We are grateful for your personal efforts and those of your government to establish peace in Colombia.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is fully committed to support peace in Colombia. And this was also the message my Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok conveyed during his recent visit to Colombia.

We follow developments in Colombia with particular interest: our Kingdom is made up of four countries, of which Aruba and Curacao are close maritime neighbors to your country.  

Mr. President, the recently held presidential elections mark an important and commendable milestone in Colombia. The elections were fair, inclusive and peaceful, and saw the highest turn-out in recent history. We congratulate President-elect Ivan Duque with winning the elections and we welcome his expressed commitment to seek unity.

My Prime Minister of Curacao Eugene Rhuggenaath looks forward to attending the upcoming inauguration on behalf of our Kingdom. We look forward to working closely with the new government based on the close friendship and interconnectedness between our two peoples.

The change of governments in Colombia provides us with a moment to take stock of what has been achieved so far, and what opportunities and challenges lay ahead. The peace agreement that ended a five-decades old conflict is historic by any standard.

We pay tribute to the Santos’ administration and the FARC for their courage and leadership in advancing this peace process. We hope Colombia will now seize the opportunity to further consolidate this peace.

In that context, Mr. President, let me touch upon three points:

  • First, our concern about the security situation;
  • Secondly, the need for inclusive reintegration of former FARC members;
  • And thirdly, the importance of transitional justice.  

1. Security situation

My first point: the security situation. We are deeply concerned about the high levels of insecurity in the zones most affected by the armed conflict. In these areas, social leaders, human rights defenders and journalists are increasingly being threatened and sometimes even killed. This often happens in territories where armed groups proliferate and continue to resist peacebuilding efforts.

Colombian people, state institutions and political parties alike have recently expressed themselves through the so-called ‘Pact of repudiation of violence against social leaders’, as Jean Arnault referred to. This pact sends a strong signal that Colombians do not accept that those who speak out are too often made to pay the highest price.

We are also concerned about the continued violence against former FARC combatants. Their security guarantees are central to the peace agreement and form the bedrock of a durable peace. The government has taken initiatives to address the violence, strengthening mechanisms to prevent, protect and hold the perpetrators to account. But in order to make these mechanisms work, a thorough analysis of the patterns behind the violence would be useful, identifying the intellectual authors.

We look forward to a comprehensive stabilization approach that effectively asserts the presence of the state in the most vulnerable regions and communities. This should include institutions for security, infrastructure, education, health care and rule of law.

2. Inclusive reintegration

Mr. President, this brings me to my second point: inclusive reintegration of former combatants. This remains a core component of the peace agreement.

Stimulating income-generating activities and the provision of social services are an important tool with which to address root causes of conflict and ultimately promote self-reliance.

We encourage the Government, former FARC combatants, the private sector and local authorities to jointly design a comprehensive strategy towards full reintegration in society, as foreseen in the peace agreement. It is essential that women and youth have a voice in this process.

3. Transitional Justice

Mr. President, my third point concerns transitional justice. This is an essential aspect of conflict resolution.

Accountability and reconciliation are two sides of the same coin on the road to sustainable peace. This is why my government actively supports the transitional justice institutions as well as victims’ organizations in Colombia, with a contribution of 2.5 million euros.

We underscore the need for the swift, effective and properly resourced implementation of the different transitional justice institutions. In this regard we express our full support for the workings of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. We welcome the fact that public hearings have started.

In this way, Transitional Justice offers the opportunity to address past grievances, putting the 8 million victims of the armed conflict at the center of our peace building efforts. We hope this will turn the page in Colombia.

Conclusion

Mr. President, let me conclude in Spanish.

Los dividendos de la paz que acabo de mencionar, sobre todo la seguridad, una reintegración incluyente y la justicia transicional, están íntimamente conectados.

El compromiso sostenido de implementar los acuerdos de manera integral puede asegurar que la paz en Colombia sea estable y duradera.

Llamamos a todos los actores a que colaboren con esta finalidad y a que continúen de construir sobre los grandes logros alcanzados.

La comunidad internacional está con Colombia. Usted puede contar con el apoyo continuo del Reino de los Países Bajos.

Señor Presidente, muchas gracias.

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