NEW YORK, MAY 6 – “Lessons learned from a UN Security Council visit to Colombia: strong political will of the parties, strong political support from the UN brings results”, the Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi said on Saturday, on the way back from a three day visiting mission of the Council in Colombia.
Uruguayan Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, current president of the Council for the month of May, and his UK colleague Matthew Rycroft led the mission. At the close Rosselli stated “our absolute confidence in Colombian people who are desperately seeking to confirm their peace process.”
“It is expected to meet the D +180 deadline as originally planned” said Roselli at the conclusion of their visit in the Transitional Local Zone for Normalization of “La Reforma”, in the Department of Meta. This is one of the 26 locations (zones and points) where the members of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) are regrouping and laying down their weapons. Council members had the opportunity to tour the local team site of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) of the ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities and learn about its activities. The Representative of the Secretary General and head of the UN Mission in Colombia, Jean Arnault, Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín, Colombian Ambassador to the United Nations, María Emma Mejía, the High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, and the leader of the FARC-EP, Iván Márquez were also accompanying this visit.
Council members travelled to La Reforma by helicopter from Villavicencio, where they had arrived by plane from Bogotá, then proceeded by bus ad at one point they were stalled by mud on the road and had to proceed on foot. Most of the zones are in remote areas and this creates logistical difficulties, which were highlighted by members of the local MVM team with whom Council members met.
The visit to La Reforma was particularly symbolic given the fact that this area was the epicentre of the El Caguán peace process, which led to the establishment of a demilitarised zone of 42,000 square kilometers in the area in 1999. When that peace process failed, the area was taken over by the Colombian armed forces in February 2002.
The UK Ambassador Rycroft highlighted the visit to the Zone. “We have spoken in detail about some of the challenges of implementation, but what we have seen is determination and trust between the parties that convinces us that this process will move forward and come to culmination”, he said. “It is inspiring to confirm the achievements since the signing of the peace agreement. All parties are fully committed to peace. This peace is irreversible”, the Ambassador added.
The entire delegation of the UN, Government and FARC verified the progress in the implementation of the agreements in the Zone, the facilities and the advanced processes. They also had a meeting with the community that lives in the region. The ambassadors returned to New York on Friday, and on 16 May, Uruguay and UK will brief the Council. As has happened in other instances, it is possible that Council members may agree on an outcome building on the conclusions of this visiting mission. (@OnuItalia)