Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
July 14, 2022
Good afternoon. I want to begin by thanking Ireland, Colombia, and Norway for organizing this meeting and our briefers for their moving and powerful insights. I’d also like to acknowledge the presence of Vice President and Foreign Minister Ramírez and thank her for her presentation. I have to say, this has been a rather emotional day – extraordinarily impactful – and in particular with the intervention from Father de Roux this morning in the Council meeting and Ms. Mosquera Rivera’s words this afternoon. As I said this morning, this is a day that will stay with me for a long time.
This meeting is also a welcome opportunity to focus on transitional justice in Colombia, a topic with global resonance. The United States of course, is a strong supporter of Colombia’s 2016 Peace Accord, and the implementation of the comprehensive system of truth, justice, reparation, and non-repetition it created.
As we discussed earlier today, the work of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace provide an important opportunity for Colombians to come to terms with the decades of conflict and to allow victims and survivors an opportunity to heal.
Alongside the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Unit for the Search of Disappeared Persons, the Truth Commission represents a critical component of the transitional justice system. We commend the Truth Commission’s commitment, its tireless efforts, and its support for victims of the conflict.
As we noted this morning in connection with the first public hearings held by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), we are encouraged that the indicted individuals, representing the top former FARC leadership and some implicated Army officers, voluntarily acknowledged responsibility for their actions during the conflict and apologized to their victims. Expanding access to independent legal representation for members of the military and veterans will be essential to ensure accountability for false positives and state-paramilitary crimes, as these investigations move up the chain of command.
As the JEP prepares to develop its first restorative sanctions, it is imperative that these sentences are shaped in concert with victims, who will be the arbiters of the sanctions’ legitimacy. It is likewise essential that Colombia’s executive branch cooperate with the JEP to provide the logistical architecture and financial support to facilitate these sentences, including security guarantees for ex-combatants.
Colombia’s peace accord has served as a model for ending conflicts worldwide. It is essential for the Security Council, in my view, to meaningfully – meaningfully – reflect on the lessons learned from Colombia’s transitional justice system, both to assist Colombia as it moves forward, and to help resolve conflicts elsewhere. Thank you.