Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
April 21, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. Special Representative Ruiz Massieu, thank you for your briefing. The Verification Mission continues to play a vital role in supporting peace in Colombia. Foreign Minister Blum, as always, we welcome your presence here.
We acknowledge the Government of Colombia’s continuing commitment to the peace accord, particularly given the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. We also welcome President Duque’s extraordinary humanitarian decision to grant 10-year protected status to so many of the 1.7 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia.
As the Secretary-General’s report notes, this year will be decisive for the work of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. For this work to be successful in upholding victims’ rights and in laying the foundation for reconciliation, it is critical for former combatants, members of the public security forces, and third parties to the conflict to provide exhaustive and truthful accounts of the crimes committed, to acknowledge their role in the conflict, and to contribute to reparations.
As we have seen, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace has already taken its first steps in the pursuit of justice for acts of kidnapping and hostage-taking committed by former members of the FARC, and its revelation of new information regarding the “false positive” killings by state agents. We welcome these developments, and note that continued support by the international community can help ensure the SJP succeeds.
The continued participation of former FARC combatants in reintegration efforts stands as a significant success and is a testament to the commitment of the Colombian government and people. Despite these great strides, however, we must be wary of the obstacles to fulfilling the accord’s transformational promise.
We remain concerned by ongoing violence by non-state armed groups against human rights defenders, social leaders, former combatants, and other vulnerable populations. In addition, killings of former FARC combatants continue despite efforts by Colombian authorities. While national and regional authorities have provided support through evacuations, we urge the Government of Colombia to take action to implement the evacuation roadmap announced last year. It will also be essential to ensure that adequate security guarantees are in place so that ex-combatants can safely fulfill the sentences of the SJP.
Continued rural violence has also disproportionately affected Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, deepening long-standing inequities and accelerating displacement. We urge the Government of Colombia to continue expanding police and justice presence in rural areas as part of an approach that protects social leaders, supports victims, and promotes the full political, economic, and civic participation of members of ethnic minority groups and women.
Finally, we encourage the Government of Colombia to accelerate implementation of the rural reform provisions of the agreement, and implement a holistic approach to security, rural development, and counter-narcotics in strategic regions of concern. The path to a sustainable peace lies in greater involvement of the state in rural areas and the growth of licit economies, underpinned by security, public service delivery, infrastructure, and the rule of law. A robust crop substitution program based on community infrastructure – rather than cash payments – would also help ensure that communities affected by armed conflict can escape the cycle of continuing violence that illicit economies often fuel.
The United States again reiterates its appreciation for the Government of Colombia’s attention to these issues and to our shared objectives. The progress we have seen to date on this wide-ranging accord reflects the commitment and the will of the Colombian people to put more than half a century of conflict behind them.
The United States will continue its strong partnership with Colombia in the service of a brighter future, and thank you again for your hard work in the service of that goal.