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, 10 October 2018

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

And let me begin by thanking Special Representative Jean Arnault for his comprehensive briefing and for the tireless efforts for peace of him and his team.

Let me also welcome Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Holmes to this Council, as well as High Commissioner for Post-Conflict Emilio Archila. Bienvenido! Mr. Minister, your presence today is a demonstration of the continued partnership of Colombia with the UN in support of durable peace.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four autonomous countries, of which Aruba and Curacao are close maritime neighbours to your country. A close friendship exists between our peoples. And our Prime Minister Mark Rutte looks forward to his visit to Colombia in November, together with high-level delegations from Aruba and Curacao.

Let me assure you, Mr. Minister, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is fully committed to peace in Colombia, which we support both politically and financially.

Mr. President, today’s discussion comes soon after the mandate renewal of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. The joint request by the Colombian government and the FARC to extend its mandate reaffirmed their sustained commitment to the peace agreement and to sustainable peace.

The implementation of the peace agreement remains a challenge. It can only succeed with the full attention and commitment of the Colombian government and the other parties involved.

Mr. President, in that light I will address three issues today:

  • The importance of an inclusive approach;
  • Socio-economic and legal reintegration; and
  • The security situation.

1. An inclusive approach

My first point, Mr. President, the need for an inclusive approach. In his inauguration speech President Duque expressed the intention of his administration to bring Colombians together, seek consensus and overcome polarization. We applaud his expressed commitment to inclusivity.

We call upon the Colombian government to engage with civil society and to foster ownership and inclusivity of the peace process, including women and youth. Inclusivity is particularly important amongst marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, and the LGBTI-community.

We welcome the resumption of the work of the Commission for the Follow-up, Promotion and Verification of the Final Agreement (CSIVI) and of the National Reintegration Council (NRC).

We also welcome the meeting held by President Duque with representatives from indigenous communities, and his expressed commitment to promote indigenous development.

We also appreciate the efforts by the UN mission, the Colombian authorities and NGOs to implement relevant gender-provisions of the peace agreement. We underscore the need to continue to prioritize gender-mainstreaming. The engagement of youth is similarly important.

The youth-project BogotArt, entitled “letters for reconciliation”, promoted the exchange of letters between students and former FARC-combatants. This very important project was awarded the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize in The Hague last month.

The project shows that peace in Colombia is much more than just an agreement signed by the Colombian government and the FARC: it is also a process of reconciliation among all parts of civil society.

2. Socio-economic and legal re-integration

Mr. President, this brings me to my second point: the need for socio-economic and legal re-integration. The reintegration of the FARC is a core pillar of the peace agreement. Stimulating income-generating activities and the provision of social services can address root causes of conflict, promote self-reliance, and sustain peace.

We therefore call upon the government and the FARC to expedite the design and effective implementation of a comprehensive reintegration strategy.

The provisions for transitional justice are another core pillar of the peace agreement.

We underline the critical importance of the independent and effective functioning of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. It is a key institution for guaranteeing victim’s rights and ensuring transitional justice.

3. Security situation

This brings me to my third point, Mr. President: the security situation. We are deeply concerned by the continued high levels of insecurity in the areas which were most affected by the conflict. Restoring comprehensive state authority, with the presence of both military and civil institutions, is a key priority in this regard.

Violence against former FARC combatants strikes at the core of the peace agreement. In our view it is essential for the government to uphold their security guarantees.

The ongoing and increased number of assassinations of social leaders and human rights defenders remains alarming. And Jean, you were quite outspoken on this in your introduction and we thank you for your clear statement.

It is unacceptable that those Colombians that have the courage to stand up for human rights are made to pay the highest price. Let me underline the statement of our Swedish colleague in this regard.

Mr. President, we welcome the adoption of the “Pact for Life and the Protection of Social Leaders and Human Rights Defenders”.

We look forward to its urgent follow-up to ensure effective prevention and protection, as well as to ensure the prosecution of perpetrators.  

We encourage the government and the ELN to continue to assess the scope for peace negotiations and to maintain an open line of communication. The Kingdom of the Netherlands stands ready to support such a process.


Please allow me, Mr. President, to conclude in Spanish.

En conclusión, déjame enfatizar que la firma del acuerdo de paz cuenta como un éxito histórico, y sirve como una inspiración alrededor del mundo.

Ahora, Colombia tiene que hacer todo para asegurar que la paz se vuelva irreversible. Porque la paz es mucho más que un acuerdo.

La paz tiene que ser incluyente, basada en una apropiación por la sociedad civil y en el respeto a los derechos humanos.

La paz está asentada en instituciones estatales efectivas que procuran seguridad, un estado de derecho y desarrollo.

La paz invita a inversiones y a la destinación de recursos públicos.

Y la paz demanda un compromiso sostenido con la promesa de reconciliación y un futuro más seguro que incluye colombianos de todos los estratos.

El Reino de los Países Bajos, como vecino de Colombia, está listo para continuar su apoyo al acuerdo de paz y su implementación efectiva.

Muchas gracias, Senor Presidente.

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