Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations during the Security Council Meeting on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, 10 October 2019

Excellencies,

I now address the Council in my national capacity. Let me start by thanking and welcoming the Foreign Minister of Colombia, H.E. Carlos Holmes Trujillo to the meeting. We appreciate your commitment and availability to brief the Council each time the agenda item of Colombia is discussed and you have South Africa’s full support in your country’s quest to achieve long-term and sustainable peace. In the same spirit, we also thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Mr Carlos Massieu for his informative briefing this morning.

Excellencies,

South Africa fully supports the Final Peace Agreement that was signed between the Government of Colombia and the FARC in 2016. We welcome mechanisms of the Peace Agreement such as the Commission for the Follow-up, Promotion and Verification of the Implementation of the Final Agreement (CSIVI), which can be used to address gaps and challenges related to implementation of the Peace Agreement and we encourage both parties to use the CSIVI which can be used as a basis to strengthen dialogue.

South Africa welcomes the recent positive steps taken by the Government which lays the foundation for the Government to continue its initiative to integrate the former FARC-EP and ensure that they can live full and decent lives. In this regard, we welcome the efforts by President Duque and his administration in implementing the “Peace with Legality” strategy which has given way for the approval of various projects for former combatants, the beginning of implementation of the development programmes with a territorial focus (PDETs) and his visits to the former territorial areas for training and reintegration (TATRs) which can be seen as confidence and trust building efforts between the Government and former combatants.

We welcome the Government’s efforts with transformation of the TATRs for the purposes of training and reintegration as well as the constructive role and responsive attitude of the FARC. We agree with the Secretary-General’s assessment in his latest report that this is “an example for overcoming hurdles in implementation through dialogue” which South Africa supports as it contributes to addressing the concerns and uncertainties of the FARC regarding their future in Colombian daily life politically, socially and economically. This is important as it relates to rural and political reintegration and reform, development of territories, transitional justice and victims’ rights, who should remain at the center of the full implementation of the Peace Agreement. We welcome the role of the Truth Commission and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in this regard. South Africa’s own experience with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission confirmed that it was crucial for achieving national unity. Hearing the different views and versions of events of all communities in Colombia will ensure that the road to peace is based on an inclusive political process.

Excellencies

The consolidation of peace after decades of conflict and mistrust is not an easy task. In this regard, we are concerned by the announcement made in August 2019 by a group of former FARC-EP commanders who announced their decision to take up arms again. Such narratives have the potential to reignite violence in territories, undermine the political progress that has been achieved and the foundations for trust that are being established as well as the prospects for long-term peace for all who live in Colombia. We agree with, and wish to join the UN Verification Mission commending the resilience of Colombian society and its institutions and encourage them to remain committed to the peace process that has saved many lives. We also wish to commend the Government of Colombia and the FARC party for swiftly responding to this potentially damaging announcement and rejecting it by expressing their commitment to the peace process on behalf of former combatants across the country. Former combatants who laid down their weapons in good faith must remain part of the reintegration process which must be respected, honoured and realized because their efforts remain important to the work of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition. We call on all political parties to fully respect and remain committed to the agreement and continue to desist from any actions that may undermine its comprehensive implementation.

Excellencies,

We remain concerned about the security of all stakeholders. This includes the recent killings of various political candidates, community and social leaders, human rights defenders, former FARC-EP combatants, persons participating in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, rural communities, including people living with disabilities, indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian communities particularly in the context of the upcoming elections expected to take place later this month. It is also important to be cognisant of the specific threats to female candidates and leaders and urge the government and all stakeholders across Colombian society to double their efforts to promote peace and tolerance to ensure the safety of all in the context of elections and beyond It is important and the Government and all stakeholders in Colombian society encourage the participation of young people and women at grassroots and all levels whose voices and perspectives can contribute significantly to long-term plans for reintegration and stability of Colombia.

We note the Joint Communiqué issued by Cuba and Norway on 9 September 2019 Guarantor Countries of talks between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) and we commend them for their willingness to continue supporting and accompanying efforts to achieve a stable and lasting peace in Colombia.

Excellencies,

Let me conclude by stating that South Africa urges Member States and the international partners to support and encourage the people of Colombia to preserve and fully implement the Final Peace in a comprehensive manner to address the concerns and rights of victims, access to justice and reparation, guarantees of non-repetition inclusive dialogue and a peaceful negotiated settlement.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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