NEW YORK (HPD) — The United Nations on Wednesday described Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s decision to resume dialogue with the National Liberation Army (ELN) as “encouraging” and welcomed a “new scenario of renewed opportunities” for achieve peace in Colombia.
Carlos Ruiz, United Nations envoy for Colombia, said during a meeting of the UN Security Council that with the will of Petro and the ELN, in addition to the support of Colombian society, “it will be possible to put an end to a conflict that has lasted decades”.
“I am confident that Colombia can show the world, once again, that there is no better alternative to end conflicts than through dialogue,” he said.
The 2016 peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government of then-president Juan Manuel Santos ended half a century of armed conflict. However, various illegal armed groups continue to use violence to maintain control over drug trafficking routes. These groups are mainly the dissidents of the FARC, the Clan del Golfo and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
The Security Council quarterly reviews the situation of the peace process in the Latin American country, where more than 13,000 ex-combatants handed over their weapons.
During his speech on Wednesday, Ruiz spoke of Colombians who suffer from the constant threat posed by the presence of illegal armed actors and the lack of basic services in rural or dangerous areas.
“That is why I salute the government’s willingness to adopt a new human security approach aimed precisely at strengthening the comprehensive deployment of the state, the trust of citizens in civil institutions and the public force, and progressively deactivating the causes that originate violence.” , he indicated.
Ruiz described Petro’s approach of “total peace” as “bold”, which seeks to pave the way for possible negotiations and agreements with illegal armed groups.
Colombian Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva participated in the meeting and denounced the scourge of drug trafficking in his country. He spoke of Petro’s program to review the approach to the fight against drugs by now prioritizing the voluntary substitution of coca leaf crops over forced eradication.
“The uncontrolled international demand for reasons of vice does not let us rest easy. It sows death and desolation,” said the foreign minister.
Also participating in the meeting was Elisabeth Moreno, legal representative of the General Community Council of San Juan (Acadesan), who spoke on behalf of black and indigenous communities in Colombia. Moreno denounced that these communities suffer the abandonment of the state, which does not guarantee their human rights and at the same time destroys the environment.
For his part, Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, adviser for special political affairs of the United States mission to the UN, called for work to improve the situation of violence in Colombia. He listed several murders of police officers and human rights defenders in the South American country and said that 11 former FARC combatants were killed in July, the bloodiest month, he said, for ex-combatants since 2019.
“It is crucial that Colombia avoid going backwards in security since insecurity will cloud the ability to deal with other provisions of the (2016) peace agreement,” said DeLaurentis.