UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- The UN envoy for Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, on Monday called for efforts to preserve the hard-won gains in Colombia's peace process through the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
During 2019, Colombia continued making significant strides in its peace process even in the face of serious challenges, particularly in terms of security for conflict-affected communities, social leaders and former combatants, Massieu told the Security Council.
Enhanced participation and improved security in the October 2019 regional elections demonstrated the positive impact of the peace process on Colombian democracy. Thousands of former combatants who only a few years ago were armed with weapons of war continue to forge new lives through the opportunities provided by peace, he said.
Massieu said the hard-won gains must be protected, preserved and built upon, and that the best path is through the comprehensive implementation of the peace agreement between the government and FARC.
He encouraged the two parties to deepen their dialogue regarding any differences in the implementation of the agreement.
"We remain convinced that the full implementation of the peace agreement, in all its interconnected aspects, provides the best possible hope for Colombia to lay the foundations for a more peaceful and prosperous future."
The Colombian government and FARC struck a peace deal in August 2016 after four years of negotiations in Havana, Cuba, ending a five-decades-long conflict in the country. Massieu is leading the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, which is tasked to verify the reintegration of former FARC fighters.
Despite progress in many aspects, pervasive violence in conflict-affected areas continues to threaten the consolidation of peace, as illustrated by several profoundly worrying developments in the last few weeks, said Massieu.
The perpetrators of attacks against social leaders and former combatants, including the masterminds behind such attacks, must be brought swiftly to justice, and more effective measures are imperative to protect these individuals and their communities, he said.
He called for attention to the more than 9,000 former combatants living outside the designated territorial areas, who face higher security risks and additional obstacles to access basic services and educational, employment and productive opportunities. Former combatants of ethnic origin and those with disabilities should also be given special attention.
Sustained measures are also needed to provide protective environments for over 2,000 children of former combatants, he said.
"Peace will not be fully achieved if the brave voices of social leaders continue to be silenced through violence and if former combatants who laid down their weapons and are committed to their reintegration continue to be killed."
Sunday's announcement by authorities that they had thwarted a planned attempt to assassinate former FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, alias Timochenko, underscored the risks facing former FARC members and the peace process itself, and how crucially important it is to guarantee their security, said Massieu.
The peace agreement contains far-sighted provisions to address a multitude of challenges that have afflicted Colombia for decades, he said.
The development programs with a territorial focus are helping bring much-needed investments for conflict-affected populations.
Regarding illicit economies, the peace agreement created a crop substitution program to support families in transitioning away from coca cultivation to other productive endeavors.
The peace agreement provided for the development of a public policy to dismantle illegal armed groups, criminal structures and their support networks, he said.
The UN Verification Mission and the UN system in Colombia will continue to support the parties to move forward. The support of the international community, and of the Security Council, in particular, will remain key, he said.