Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia (S/2017/745)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
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Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia (S/2017/745)


The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2366 (2017), in which the Council requested that, within 45 days of the adoption of the resolution, the Secretary-General presents detailed recommendations regarding the size, operational aspects and mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, consistent with the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) (see S/2017/272, annex II). 


The second United Nations mission is responsible for the verification of the reintegration of FARC-EP members into political, economic and social life; the implementation of personal and collective security and protection measures; and comprehensive security and protection programmes for communities and organizations in the territories. It is established for the period of three years, and it is of political nature and encompasses regional and local verification (para. 2).

The Verification Mission should verify implementation by the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP of sections 3.2 and 3.4 of the Final Agreement, including the political, economic and social reintegration of FARC-EP and the implementation of personal and collective security guarantees and of comprehensive programmes on security and protection measures for communities and organizations in the territories, as well as carrying out the required regional and local verification. In the resolution, the Council requested that I report to it every 90 days on the implementation of the mandate of the Verification Mission (para. 4). - The tasks for the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia will be related exclusively to verification, with no operational tasks.  

1. Verification of political, economic and social reintegration, including the transition of FARC-EP from an armed organisation into a new legal political party or movement and a number of commitments relating to socioeconomic reintegration ;

2. Verification of security guarantees, including the ceasefire, the laying down of weapons by FARC-EP, among others.

***A centrepiece of the set of security guarantees is the comprehensive security and protection programme for communities and organisations. This programme, which includes a broad range of physical protection, education and awareness-raising measures to support the groups, organizations and people most at risk, also contains specific measures for the protection and participation of women.

The new Mission will be called upon to cooperate most closely in carrying out its mandate, in particular with the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defence, the Agency for Reintegration and Normalization, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Attorney General, the national police and the armed forces.

Geographical Deployment:

1 Mission headquarters office in Bogota, 9 regional offices and 26 local teams, with the latter coinciding with the territorial areas for training and reintegration with the following modifications:

(a) the Bucaramanga regional office would be transferred to Cúcuta (department of Norte de Santander), where it would be better placed to support local teams in the area, and where United Nations entities are also present;

(b) a new regional office would be established in Pasto (department of Nariño) given that the current Popayán regional office is unable, owing to distance, to adequately support the local teams in Nariño, and given that United Nations entities are also present in Pasto; and

(c) the establishment of small sub-offices at seven locations: Montería (department of Córdoba); Puerto Rico (department of Meta); Arauca (department of Arauca); Mocoa (department of Putumayo); Apartadó (department of Antioquia); Buenaventura (department of Valle del Cauca); and Barrancabermeja (department of Santander).


The majority of the staff of the Verification Mission will be civilians, working in teams with unarmed, non-uniformed international observers. The presence of combined teams at the local, regional and national levels will provide the Mission with the set of skills and knowledge necessary to address both the security and non-security matters pertaining to its mandate and to engage effectively with its civilian, military and police counterparts. To the extent possible, civilian staff and observers will transfer from the current Mission to the Verification Mission, in order to give the latter the benefit of in-depth experience with the peace process and the opportunity to maintain and build upon well-established professional relationships. The Verification Mission will seek to employ suitably experienced national staff in as many roles as possible, given the availability of highly qualified Colombians in the functional and thematic areas covered.


The Verification Mission will be led by my Special Representative for Colombia and Head of the United Nations Mission in Colombia, who will exercise full political and operational responsibility for the Mission.

My Special Representative will be assisted by a Deputy Special Representative, whose primary role will be to supervise the Mission’s field presence, and a Chief of Staff, whose role will be to ensure that the Mission’s headquarters, in Bogota, functions in an efficient and coordinated manner.

The Office of the Special Representative will be composed of a Senior Military Adviser and a Senior Police Adviser, a public information office, a legal affairs section, an analysis and reporting unit (including a fusion cell where information from the various components will be processed) and an operations and planning section.

The Verification Mission will have four components, following a structure similar to that of the current Mission: a verification component, a mission support component, a field coordination component and a security component. The verification, mission support and security components will report to the Special Representative. The field coordination component will report to the Deputy Special Representative, whose office will also include a conduct and discipline team and a training unit.

Representation of women:

The commitment of the current Mission to increasing the number of women serving in all functions, positions and geographical locations has been an important factor contributing to its success. The Verification Mission will maintain this commitment through the prioritized recruitment of qualified female applicants and close engagement with countries that contribute observers to encourage the nomination of female observers. Indeed, the need to ensure a high level of female representation is borne out by the fact that nearly a quarter of all former members of FARC-EP in the process of reintegration are female. The experience of previous reintegration processes, both in Colombia and beyond, has confirmed the importance of considering the specific capacities and needs of women in such dynamics.


Women's Participation and Gender Analysis:

The mandate of the new mission remains gender-blind, with a recommendation to include more women, rather than introducing a position of Gender Advisor and integrating gender-sensitive analysis in the mandate of the mission, which may significantly affect the situation of women, especially in rural areas. 

  • Ensure a gender-sensitive analysis and monitoring throughout the implementation of all points included in the Final Peace Agreement.


As the UN Mission in Colombia failed to respond to gender-specific needs in disarmament of the Colombian society as a whole, the Verification Mission is likely to produce even less impact on this front. 

  • Understand that peace as a process goes beyond disarmament of insurgent groups and requires the establishment of necessary conditions for social transformation based on the understanding of the impact of arms on women and the creation of conditions suitable for achieving gender equality.
  • Review and request the Government of Colombia to update arms control regulations to ensure the integration of gender analysis in their implementation.

A situation of Women Human Rights Defenders:

In light of the increase in murders of human rights defenders and community leaders, including the recent assassination of Luz Jenny Montaño Arboleda in Tumaco,

  • the Mission should ensure proper investigations without further delay, and to ensure the National Commission on Security Guarantees consults directly with affected communities, particularly Afro-Colombian and Indigenous authorities, to increase individual and collective protections for those under threat.