The United Nations formally agreed to engage in a second mission to Colombia’s ongoing peace process on Monday through which they will oversee the reintegration of the Marxist-inspired FARC rebels into civilian life in the South American country.
The unanimous adoption of a British-drafted resolution establishes the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia for a year starting on Sept. 17, when the mandate of the current mission that has been monitoring the cease-fire and disarmament process ends.
With the assassination of at least 37 social leaders since the signing of a peace deal on December 1 last year, the resolution formalizes an agreement made with the UN Security Council in July that will strengthen protections for demobilizing former combatants.
Following today´s session, the Security Council will continue to work on the request of President Santos of 5 June to count on a second UN Mission to “verify the process of political, economic and social reincorporation of the FARC-EP and the implementation of individual and collective protection and security measures, and integrated security and protection programs for communities and organizations in the regions, among other topics”, as agreed between the parties.
United Nations Security Council
This formal confirmation of a second mission comes as the FARC complete disarmament and prepare for the demobilization and reintegration parts of the DDR process with representatives of both Britain and the United States stressing that the next phase of implementation will be crucial.
Experience from our own history in Northern Ireland has taught us that the hardest part remains ahead.
British ambassador Stephen Hickey
“A sustainable and lasting peace will depend on the FARC’s successful reincorporation into civilian life,” the United Kingdom’s ambassador, Stephen Hickey said.
US Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison said the peace deal was entering a “critical next phase” and stressed the importance of rural development and counter-narcotics efforts in which the US has vowed increased involvement.
After decades of controlling coca leaf and cocaine production in rural areas, the FARC’s disbandment will now see farmers in those areas avail of government programs to substitute illicit crops for legal ones.
However, the threat of right-wing paramilitary groups that have moved into the power vacuum left by the FARC means that these farmers will need protection from the UN mission.
Addressing the council, Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin acknowledged that bringing peace and prosperity to the FARC’s former strongholds in the countryside is “our main challenge.”
The 12-month UN mission will bolster international support for the peace process with French ambassador Francois Delattre confirming that the European country will pledge $930 million in support for the implementation of the peace accord.
Any additional support that can be drummed up for the peace process will be welcomed as significant opposition still remains across Colombia.
Foreign Minister Holguin however told the council the peace process is “surrounded by a dynamic debate, as happens in every strong democracy, but little by little, people are starting to notice the effects of peace and are willing to give it a chance.”
“The development of political participation, greater equity and better justice will be fundamental to become the country that we want to be,” she added.
The Medellin-based Oficina de Envigado, once formed by slain drug lord and former Congressman Pablo Escobar and with ongoing ties with corrupt elements within the state and the elite, has already said it will kill any guerrilla trying to reintegrate into society.
Other paramilitary groups like the Aguilas Negras, ideologically aligned with Uribe, have also been accused of threatening and killing victims of land theft and community leaders considered key in a more grass-roots implementation of peace.
To comply with the peace agreement, Colombia’s national authorities are supposed to dismantle this clot of narco-political-economic structures that have permeated Colombia’s politics and for decades.
No more than 34% of Colombians believe that the peace process will allow the country to live in peace. Even less, 25%, believes there will be no more violence of political nature.
After peace talks in 1985 allowed the FARC to take part politically, thousands of FARC members and supporters of their political participation were assassinated by a previous generation of paramilitary group and state officials.
Additionally, Colombia’s state system — beyond corruption from drug trafficking — is systematically or even systemically corrupt and weak, which has long benefited an exclusive elite of local political dynasties.
To curb this age-old phenomenon and make the country’s political system more inclusive, far-stretching political reforms were agreed in the peace deal.