EPON Seminar in Bogotá, Colombia

On 27 October 2022, the University de los Andes, HEGOA Institute of the University of the Basque Country and EPON organised a seminar on the effectiveness of the United Nations Special Political Mission in Colombia.

Senior representatives of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, various Colombian universities and several research institutions analysed the contributions of the United Nations to the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement signed by the Government of Colombia and the FARC guerrillas in October 2016. Several research institutions in Colombia that evaluate the implementation of the peace agreement and a former Colombian ombudsman also participated in the event (CINEP, CERAC, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, FIP).

The participants reflected on the political mission in Colombia and its mandate as a verifier of various areas of the implementation of the agreement, in particular, the process of reincorporation of former FARC combatants and the execution by the State of the various security measures to protect former combatants, human rights defenders and social leaders, and communities. The participants also discussed the challenges and dilemmas faced by the SPM to verify the new pillar of its mandate (compliance with the sanctions of the Special Justice for Peace for those responsible for grave international crimes). 

During the seminar, the participants analysed several areas related to the Political Mission in Colombia’s work and effectiveness. The main elements were:

  • The proactive and strategic verification approach of the Political Mission: how to deal with the trade-off between a traditional exercise of monitoring, analysis, and reporting to the UN Security Council and a constructive attitude to accompany the implementing partners to resolve disputes and address challenges and difficulties.
  • The innovations in the ways of working in Colombia, and in particular the promotion of different tripartite mechanisms in which the United Nations supports the verification and the implementation in constant dialogue with the Government of Colombia and the FARC. 
  • The Political Mission’s territorial presence and the space gained at the local and national levels creating arenas for collaborative work, trust building and contributions to the peace agreement implementation.
  • The new security challenges in the post-agreement context and an expansive interpretation of the Political Mission’s mandate to support the peace process.
  • The Mission’s dual-track accountability to the UN Security Council and to the territories where most peace agreement commitments are implemented. 
  • The strong partnership between the UN (both the Mission and the UN system), other international actors and civil society to protect the implementation of the peace agreement in the face of political ups and downs and variations in institutional commitment to peace.  
  • The use of extra-budgetary funds to support catalytic and strategic initiatives that help implement the peace agreement, fill its gaps and overcome its bottlenecks. 
  • Among others. 

Borja Paladini-Adell, who leads the team preparing the case study on the Political Mission in Colombia for EPON, organised the seminar with Karlos Pérez de Armiño (Hegoa) and Juana García (Universidad de los Andes) support. The days before and after the seminar, Karlos Pérez and Borja Paladini took the opportunity to do fieldwork in Colombia to prepare the EPON study on Colombia. They led seven focus groups with the UN Political Mission in the headquarters and a regional office. They also interview various actors implementing the accord who have collaborated with and know the work of the UN Mission. It includes representatives of the national government, civil society, the signatories of the agreement, and other relevant stakeholders of the peace process (Special Jurisdiction of Peace, Truth Commission). They also exchanged reflections with the Deputy Special Representative (DSRSG) and Deputy Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, Raúl Rosende. Following this seminar and the fieldwork, EPON will present its study on the SPM in Colombia in the coming months.