Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
October 14, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, SRSG Ruiz Massieu for your briefing and for your report. We appreciate the vital role that the Verification Mission continues to play in supporting peace in Colombia. Thank you, Ms. Peñaranda and Ms. Soto, for your informative briefings as well. And we offer a warm welcome to Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez to the Council today.
As we approach the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Peace Agreement, this is a moment to acknowledge both the enormous progress made and the significant challenges ahead. Thousands of former combatants laid down their weapons to take part in the democratic process. Colombians have faced far less violence since. And the new transitional justice processes foster reconciliation, while also addressing the rights of victims and including historically excluded communities.
On that note, we are pleased to see that the Colombian Constitutional Court has extended the Truth Commission’s mandate for seven months. The role of the Truth Commission is essential: only by clarifying the past, elevating the voices and experiences of victims, and addressing root causes can the cycle of conflict and abuse be broken. Its efforts during this reporting period helped lead former leaders of the FARC and AUC to acknowledge their responsibilities. We commend the Truth Commission’s interest in engaging all sectors of Colombian society, including opponents of the Peace Accord within the FARC.
By bridging social divisions, Colombia can overcome the drivers of violence and realize its enormous potential. We encourage all of Colombia’s institutions and social sectors, including political parties, security forces, and private sector entities, to accept the Commission’s invitation to dialogue, and to consider its recommendations with an open mind. And we encourage the Commission to take full advantage of the extended mandate. This is an opportunity to engage conflict victims in Colombia’s most remote and difficult-to-reach areas.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace has also made significant progress. Despite great challenges, the SJP has demonstrated its commitment to establishing the truth, providing justice, and supporting long-term peace and stability in Colombia. We welcome efforts by the Attorney General and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to increase collaboration.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic makes carrying out the activities of the Peace Agreement more difficult. To that end, the United States has provided a total of six million vaccine doses to Colombia, as part of our ongoing solidarity with the people of Colombia as they recover from this devastating pandemic. These donations have allowed the Government of Colombia to provide vaccines to some of the most remote and vulnerable communities in the country.
Despite the progress spurred by the Peace Agreement, we remain concerned about continued violence and human rights violations. As the Secretary-General’s report confirms, killings of former combatants, social leaders, and human rights defenders continue. This must end. The continued violence makes it harder for former combatants to successfully reintegrate into society. It threatens the peace process as a whole.
We hope the Government of Colombia continues to invest in peacebuilding in Colombia’s 2022 National Budget, including funding for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Truth Commission. We also hope it prioritizes Peace Accord mechanisms. Regular meetings within these Peace Accord mechanisms ensure all people affected by the conflict will have a voice and a role in Accord implementation.
We have seen encouraging steps for fostering fair and sustainable peace in Colombia the past five years. While many challenges remain, the progress made to date and the work of the Verification Mission serve as a model for how to address long-standing conflicts. We commend the work of all parties over the past five years and know that the lives of Colombians have benefitted from these efforts.
I thank you.