Colombia Five Years After the Peace Agreement – Remarks

EU Special Envoy for the Colombia Peace Process, Eamon Gilmore

Remarks at Oidhaco/European Parliament Event

Colombia 5 Years after the Peace Agreement

Tuesday 09 November 2021

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Members of the European Parliament, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank Oidhaco and the European parliament for inviting me to participate in this event to mark the signing 5 years ago of the Colombian Peace Agreement.

That signing marked the end of a conflict, which had lasted for 53 years, which took the lives of almost a quarter of a million people, and which displaced more than six million people from their homes. The agreement was historic, innovative and the most comprehensive peace agreement anywhere in the world, so far, in the 21st century.

But the signing also marked the beginning of an even more difficult phase of the Colombian Peace Process, its implementation.

Today, we are one third of the way into the 15-year period agreed for the full implementation, and it is therefore timely to recognise what has been achieved so far; to realise what has fallen short; to assess the risks to the Peace Agreement; and to renew the efforts needed to implement the agreement in full.

The achievements over the past 5 years include the laying down of arms by FARC and their commitment to pursue their political objectives by democratic and peaceful means; the establishment of the transitional justice system and the work of the JEP, the Truth Commission and the Missing Persons body; the partially successful process of re-incorporation; the commencement of rural development through the PDETS and more recently, the creation of the 16 seats in Congress for areas and peoples most affected by the conflict; and the agreement entered into by the Government and the ICC Chief Prosecutor, which strengthens the work of the JEP and will enable the ICC to accompany the efforts to achieve accountability in Colombia.

But there is much more that needs to be done, and with greater urgency. The Peace Agreement is not an à la carte menu. It is an integrated whole and it needs to be implemented in full.

In his presentation at the UN Security Council on October 14, SRSG Carlos Ruiz Massieu identified the main challenges as land reform; rural development; the illegal drugs trade; the need to deepen the re-incorporation process; the needs of victims and the need to address the continuing violence against former combatants, social leaders and human rights defenders. There is also the need to bring others, including the ELN, into the Peace Process. While it is true that thousands of lives have been saved since the commencement of the Colombian Peace Process, the killing of 300 former combatants, the killings of social leaders and human rights defenders remind us in stark terms that peace has yet to become a reality for many Colombians, especially in remote areas, where illegal economies grow and where the presence of the State is weak. Preventing further killings, and ensuring accountability for those responsible, remain the most urgent of priorities. Greater use needs to be made of the mechanisms in the Agreement, including the National Commission on Security Guarantees to develop effective methods to halt the violence, which continues in Colombia.

The Colombian Peace Agreement is above all, Colombian. It was negotiated by Colombians, and is being implemented by Colombians. It does not belong to any particular government, or even to its signatories. It now belongs to the Colombian people, and I hope that more and more Colombians,  including those holding and those aspiring to political office, will increasingly take ownership of the Agreement, build on its successes to date, accelerate its implementation, and make peace a reality for people in every part of the country.

In doing that Colombia will continue to have the support of the international community and I want to commend again the great continuing work of the UN Verification Mission and the continued support of the UN Security Council.

For our part, the European Union will continue to support the Colombian Peace Process. For the past quarter of a century, the EU has supported the building of peace in Colombia, through our early support for the peace laboratories, our support for the peace negotiations, our financial, political and diplomatic support for the implementation of the agreement, our support for demining and more recently for the Defendamos La Paz campaign.

I am honoured to have been asked by the High Representative and Vice President, Josep Borrell, to continue in my role as EU Special Envoy to the Peace Process in Colombia in conjunction with my overall responsibilities as EU Special Representative for Human Rights. In these complementary roles, I will travel to Colombia in two weeks’ time, to participate in events to mark the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Agreement, and to co-chair the EU-Colombia Human Rights Dialogue, and above all to convey the EU’s continued support for the Peace Process. The EU stands by Colombia, for the full implementation of the Peace Agreement.