Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
April 12, 2022
Special Representative Ruiz Massieu, thank you for your briefing today. We appreciate the vital role that the Verification Mission continues to play in supporting peace in Colombia. President Duque, we welcome your presence here today, and we appreciate your consistent engagement with the Security Council.
As the Secretary-General’s most recent report indicates, Colombia continues to make demonstrable progress in efforts to implement the Peace Accord. We are encouraged that recent legislative elections took place with few disruptions.
For the first time, 16 victims’ seats in Colombia’s House of Representatives were filled. Arecord number of women ran for office and were elected to Colombia’s Congress, and the elections saw increased participation by indigenous and Afro-Colombian candidates. We are also encouraged that most Presidential candidates pledged to continue implementing the Peace Accord.
We look forward to the release of the final report of the Truth Commission in June. We know this report will include some difficult conclusions, and we call on all parties to reflect carefully on its findings.
While we laud the progress made to date, much work remains to be done. The Secretary-General’s report indicates intensified levels of violence in several departments, as well as ongoing attacks against former combatants, human rights defenders, and social leaders. Violence, trafficking in persons, and displacement have disproportionately affected ethnic communities, with six Afro-Colombian and 13 indigenous leaders killed during the reporting period.
Accelerated implementation of the Peace Accord’s ethnic chapter remains critical, as its implementation has lagged in comparison to the Accord’s other chapters. Gender provisions of the Peace Accord are also being implemented and financed at a slower rate than other parts of the agreement. Despite the success of the recent elections, women’s participation in the electoral process is affected by gender-based political violence and discrimination, as well as unequal access to resources.
As we all know, full implementation of rural economic plans is a generational project. For this reason, Colombia’s current and future elected leaders must continue to support the Peace Accord’s implementation on rural development and make progress to improve rural security, to address land tenure, and to tackle the root causes of these challenges.
It is equally critical that the Security Council continue to support the UN Verification Mission as it builds on Colombia’s achievements. Since 2016, Colombia has taken great strides towards a just and durable peace. With the support of the UN Verification Mission and the Security Council, we look forward to continued progress in protecting human rights, ensuring justice for the victims of the conflict, advancing rural development, and building a secure and prosperous future.