Thank you to President Iván Duque for joining us today. And we thank SRSG Ruiz Massieu for his comprehensive briefing.
Allow me to start by congratulating Colombia for carrying out perhaps the most inclusive, diverse and peaceful elections in recent times. Never have so many women run for Congress. And never have the numbers of elected women been higher. Verified victims from rural, conflict-affected areas, were also elected to represent transitional electoral districts for peace. This is indeed, another concrete result from the peace accord.
The Truth Commission’s report will be published shortly. For most Colombians it might be difficult to come to grips with the country’s violent past. But the Commission’s report, and the consequent follow-up on its recommendations, are necessary steps in the national healing process; a process which is likely to take years and generations.
The victims must also remain in focus in the years to come. I would like to express Norway’s appreciation, but also admiration, for all those who have given truthful testimony to the Commission, and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, be it ex-FARC, members of the public security forces, or third parties.
At the same time, we find the continuing reports of attacks and threats against human rights defenders most worrying. More must be done to ensure the protection of children, human rights defenders, and indigenous leaders and to ensure that perpetrators of attacks against them are brought to justice. Full implementation of the security guarantee provisions of the Agreement need to be implemented to tackle the persistent violence.
To that end, we expect expedient implementation of the orders issued to the government after the Constitutional Court declared an “unconstitutional state of affairs” regarding the guarantee of former combatants’ rights to life, physical integrity, and peace. Moreover, a public policy to dismantle illegal armed groups is much needed. Civil society representatives should also be allowed to give input to this policy.
Competition over land, and access to natural resources has fuelled grievances and armed conflict in Colombia. Deforestation accelerates land degradation, increases Colombia’s vulnerability to climate change, and exacerbates natural disasters.
The poor are then impacted disproportionately; human security is undermined; and the cycle of environmental degradation is repeated.
We do, however, commend Colombia as a regional leader in the field of climate change mitigation and forest protection; and encourage continued efforts on climate and environmental issues as part of the peace building process. Relevant initiatives related to land use, and rural reform need to be fully implemented. This could help solve one of the structural causes of Colombia’s conflict.
We commend the government for securing additional land for former FARC soldiers- and encourage acceleration of this strategic undertaking.
We also stress the importance of ensuring that institutions for dialogue and conflict resolution are well-functioning, and encourage the government to make sure that the CSIVI and CNR are operating fully at the end of their term. The same goes for the official entities for gender and ethnic issues.
The three-party cooperation on land mines is an excellent example of what may be accomplished when all parties – the former FARC, the government, the UN, and donors – collaborate.
Let me end by assuring you that Norway remains committed to accompany Colombia in your efforts to ensure the peace agreement is comprehensively implemented – both under the present government, and in the future.