In a report to the UN Security Council, which will address Colombia’s peace process on Thursday, the UN chief called on the incoming government to dedicate itself to “bringing development and the rule of law to vast expanses of the country that continue to be prey to violence.”
Guterres stressed the importance of executing the 2016 peace deal with the FARC that Duque and his hard-right Democratic Center (CD) party have consistently tried to derail in the years leading up to his election in June.
There is probably no greater challenge for the new national authorities than to bring resources and coherence to a combination of social and economic development, infrastructure, security, counter-narcotics and the rule of law. The Peace Agreement with FARC has made this possible; the country’s new leadership has the opportunity to make this a reality.
Furthermore, the UN chief said that Duque and his cabinet “have the critical responsibility to restore a sense of confidence about the future among the rank and file, the mid-level commanders and the leadership of the former guerrilla group” that has been fiercely opposed by Duque, and his conservative and far-right base.
No peace process is exempt from uncertainty, but peace implementation in Colombia has been dogged by levels of uncertainty that have raised deep and understandable misgivings among FARC members reintegrating into society. Between the renegotiation following the plebiscite of October 2016, protracted discussions in Congress on the legislative agenda, the process of review by the Constitutional Court, and now the change in Government, uncertainty continues to surround issues that are at the core of any peace agreement: the legal, political and, ultimately, security guarantees for those who have laid down their weapons and depend on institutions to deliver those guarantees as well as socioeconomic opportunities.
Executing the peace deal “is not only a matter of consolidating the peace process with FARC, it is also a matter of credibility in relation to possible future negotiations with other armed actors. More broadly, it goes to the heart of the principle of the negotiated settlement of armed conflicts, to which the United Nations is deeply committed,” the UN chief said.
The UN’s mission chief in Colombia, Jean Arnault, met with Duque last month and will brief the security council on the peace process on Thursday.
Duque is set to take office on August 7.