|Training and support for the farmers in the Department of Nariño for the commercialization of guinea pigs at home. Photo courtesy of the Land Restitution Unit under the Government of Colombia|
* Miguel Rodriguez, Colombia's Ambassador to Việt Nam
Today, I would like to share with you that since Mr Ivan Duque took office as President of Colombia in August 2018, the Colombian government has fully committed to the implementation of the Peace Agreements signed in 2016 with the former FARC guerrilla. These agreements have been implemented through the adoption of the “Peace with Legality Policy”; a very successful program intended to transform the territories most affected by violence and poverty through the implementation of integral and coherent actions aiming to guarantee a peaceful coexistence of our people, and to ensure the protection of the rights of the victims. These territories are home to 6.6 out of the 48 million Colombian citizens.
During the first three years of the “Peace with Legality Policy”, Colombia has achieved concrete and verifiable results with respect to justice and legal guarantees; political participation and social reincorporation of former combatants; support for victims; illegal crop substitution programs; development plans with a territorial approach; and integral rural development involving multiple aspects such as infrastructure, demining, social investment, and environmental initiatives. All the above-mentioned results have been achieved under a gender, ethnic and humanitarian-based approach, and with the strong support of the international community.
Regarding justice and legal guarantees, the Colombian government has ensured and respected the independence of the institutions and has operated under the principle of harmonious collaborations between the distinct branches of power, especially on instances related to the Transitional Justice System (Special Jurisdiction for Peace); a set of mechanisms to guarantee the right of victims to truth, justice, reparation, and non-repetition.
As President Duque remarked, the main lesson learnt from Colombia’s peace process is that ‘the building of peace needs, unfailingly, that principles of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition are applied rigorously and without hesitation’. On this line, the government approved more than US132.4 million in 2020 to support the Transitional Justice System.
To support the political participation of former combatants, The National Electoral Council recognised the legal status of the so-called “communes” political party. This political party created by the former FARC guerrilla currently holds 10 seats in the Congress of the Republic granted as part of the peace agreement. Additionally, in 2019, the “Communes” party participated in the last electoral process for local authorities, where they presented 308 candidates with some of them having been elected.
Last August, 16 special transitions peace constituencies were created for the House of Representatives to also ensure the political participation of the victims of the territories most affected by violence.
It is clear for the Colombian government that peace building needs to be inclusive and rely on the territories. For this reason, important advances have been made in the restitution of land to those who were dispossessed or who were displaced by actors of the country’s armed conflict: more than 152,800 hectares have been restituted so far; 220,000 citizens participated in the formulation of the “Development Plan with a Territorial Approach”, a plan that prioritizes and organizes development initiatives with US$2.3 billion invested in the 170 municipalities most influenced by the conflict.
The Colombian government has fully supported approximately 14,000 former combatants by giving continuity to the 24 territorial Spaces for Training and reintegration that were initially established as transitory housing solutions, aiming to guarantee the continuity of the reincorporation process. By this time, the National Reincorporation Council has approved 3,201 productive projects (individual and collective) involving more than 7,249 persons.
The Integral Program for Illegal Crop Substitution has contributed to the fight against drugs with more than 44,425 hectares replaced through voluntary crop substitution in 56 municipalities to date. There are currently several projects for economic reactivation and environmental and forest development plans underway to improve the quality of life of the rural communities. The Colombian government is working to transform the countryside with multiple strategies that include strengthening production; improving productive infrastructure and access to productive assets; facilitating access to local markets; and promoting producers associations and business plans for small rural businesses.
Finally, I would like to highlight the determined and permanent support of the international community to the implementation of Colombia’s peace agreement, especially to the United Nations Organization, to the members of the Security Council, as well as to the regional organizations, and many friend countries.
In October 2021, in her intervention before the UN, Colombia’s Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marta Lucia Ramirez, requested to extend the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia for one year more, starting on October 31 of 2021. She also highlighted the role of the UN and expressed her appreciation for “the committed work of the Mission to advance towards peace with legality. Its report recognizes the government work with the communities to design development plans and alternatives to the illegal economies, as well as the reincorporation based on gender perspective”.
The report of the UN Security Council is updated every three months and details the outstanding advances in the aforementioned areas, as well as other areas that the “Peace with Legality Policy” has managed to implement.
The government of Việt Nam has been monitoring the implementation of the agreement through its delegation to the Security Council of the United Nations. As a Non-Permanent Member, Việt Nam values the progress that Colombia has made in the implementation of the agreement through the economic and social programs mentioned above.
The Colombian society is determined to continue the path of peace, justice and not-repetition, strengthen our democracy and seek the welfare of our citizens and coming generations. VNS