Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia (S/2018/1159)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018
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Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia (S/2018/1159)

Reporting period: 26 September to 26 December 2018


The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2366 (2017), in which the Council requested that the Secretary General report on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia activities every 90 days. The Mission has been called upon to cooperate most closely in carrying out its mandate, in particular with the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defence, the Agency for Reintegration and Normalisation, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Attorney General, National Council for Peace and Reconciliation, National ComMission on Security Guarantees, Civil Society Organisations, the national police and the armed forces.


Despire emerging concerns, the report suggests that the President, Iván Duque Márquez completed the first 100 days of his government, having made repeated commitments to continue the peace process within the framework of a broader governing agenda of equity, legality and entrepreneurship. A lot of positive development have happened during the reporting period. On 17 December, the High Counsellor for Post-Conflict unveiled a plan entitled “Peace with legality”, the aim of which is to stabilize the areas most affected by conflict. The aim of the plan, which has a 15-year time horizon, is to better coordinate multiple initiatives within and beyond the Peace Agreement, including rural development, commitments to former FARC-EP members in the reintegration process, commitments to families under the voluntary substitution programme and, in particular, commitments to victims (para. 6). Several peace-related bills were introduced in the first session of Congress. The Commission on Truth, Coexistence and Non-repetition (Truth Commission) was inaugurated on 29 November, marking the start of its three-year mandate to promote understanding of events that occurred during the armed conflict, acknowledgment of responsibility and reconciliation. 

Eighteen out of 100 (18%) paragraphs in the report refer to the situation of women. Specifically, the report has made great strides to analyse social and economic empowerment of women, including former combatants. Reportedly, the FARC Gender Committee is holding a series of regional retreats with women of FARC to strengthen women’s political role (para. 42); the Ombudsman’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General, women’s organizations, UNWomen and the Mission have supported the implementation of the Programme in Putumayo Department and the Montes de María region through a permanent forum responsible for monitoring women’s security and protection (para. 53); women in territorial areas continue to organize and develop their own projects (para. 67); the National Development Plan also offers an opportunity to prioritize reintegration of female former combatants as part of its action plan. However, the international verification component for gender established in the Peace Agreement reports expressed concern over the pace of reintegration of female former combatants and security guarantees for women leaders and human rights defenders (para. 65). The Secretary-general also highlights the importance of taking into account are the strengthening of the technical capacities of cooperatives, access to lands and markets and the effective inclusion of a gender approach for the economic empowerment of women. The Mission observed a need for more women among deployed security personal and increased gender training to mitigate and respond to women ’s specific security risks in the territories (para. 53).



In future reports, the Secretary-General must advocate for more comprehensive inclusion of women, through gender mainstreaming and strengthening  gender perspectives in both security and reintegration initiatives. The importance of ensuring women’s equal access to all political, economic and social spaces cannot be ignored - this is of particularly significance in relation to the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement. It is also vital that the participation of women in all decision-making levels, be they national, regional or international be prioritised as his is necessary to peaceful reconciliation.  The Mission also ought to take more comprehensive measures to ensure the reintegration of ex-combatants to society as this too is necessary to peace and development. The Mission should work in consultation with local groups, particularly those working for and with  Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and rural women.


Given the ongoing rates of violence against women in Colombia, and particular violence committed against ex-combatants and women’s rights advocates, the report leaves considerable room for improvement. There have been numerous documented reports of the targeting of women’s rights advocates in Colombia.  The Secretary-General must do more than outline this as a issue of concern, and must advocate for a comprehensive response to this issue. The Mission should also endeavour to protect LGBTI persons.


The Mission must review, update and strengthen arms control regulations and permits  as part of its support for human rights. This is of particular importance in relation to femicides and other forms of gender-based violence. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) should be ratified and implemented without delay. Further, as suggested by La Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad (WILPF Colombia, LIMPAL for its acronym in Spanish), an increased focus on the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence should be included in the DDR monitoring and verification mechanisms led by the UN Political Mission. In the future the Secretary-General must advocate for increased and meaningful engagement by the Mission with grassroots and civil societies, like LIMPAL.


The preventative responses outlined by this report are overall lacking, particularly in relation to SGBV, an ongoing issue in Colombia. In order for these crimes to be prevented, perpetrators must be brought to trial. Not only is this is morally correct, but it is necessary for peaceful reconciliation and of vital importance to ensure the legitimacy of the Colombian government. It is therefore within the Mission’s interests to help support legal repercussions for these crimes. In instances where prosecution is challenging,  mechanisms to ensure a gender-sensitive analysis and monitoring should be put in place to document and collect evidence for future use and locating displaced victims should be a priority.

Land distribution has  plagued peaceful reconciliation in Colombia for decades. he Mission should support the peaceful redistribution of lands more comprehensively as without a comprehensive response all peace efforts are severely compromised. Though it is not appropriate that the Mission lead in the redistribution efforts, it is important that it help support and legitimise negotiations on this issue and that it advocates for this issue to be resolved. Peace processes that do not include solutions on this issue, and comprehensive support for said resolution will be ineffective.

Additionally, the Mission should aim to create groundwork for Colombia to create National Action Plans on UNSCR 1325- in consultation with women’s organisations and with a definitive timeline, budget and priorities. It is not enough that this be advocated for, and be verbally supported, it must have a definite and comprehensive plan of action that is actively monitored.