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OAS Mission in Colombia Highlights Progress and Challenges to the Peace Agenda

  May 15, 2019

The Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia of the Organization of American States (MAPP/OAS) today presented its XXVI Report to the Permanent Council of the hemispheric body, coinciding with the commemoration of its 15 years of work in the territories most affected by the armed conflict in Colombia. The document is the result of 1,358 missions in 720 rural villages, carried out between August 7 and December 31, 2018.

The Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, highlighted that "the MAPP/OAS plays a key role as a facilitator and generator of dialogue and trust in the most vulnerable and remote places in Colombia." "The MAPP has been able to adapt and connect local realities and needs with the institutional offer of the State in the areas most affected by the conflict, promoting the gradual construction of trust between these communities and the institutions, and facilitating the entry of the State into these areas," he added.

In the document, the OAS Mission notes the willingness of the government of President Ivan Duque to strengthen peace in the territories, under the principles of legality, equity and entrepreneurship.

The report highlights, among other efforts, the promulgation of the Bicentennial Plan and the Security and Defense Policy, which foresee a strong deployment of institutions in the territories. However, it points out that the violence of illegal armed groups against communities, leaders and social leaders continues to be the main threat facing the peace process.

In this period, the MAPP/OAS noted with concern the persistence of homicides, threats, deployment of antipersonnel mines, displacements, confinements, forced recruitment and sexual violence. Territories such as Bajo Cauca in Antioquia, Catatumbo and the Pacífico nariñense, as well as the departments of Chocó, Arauca and Cauca are the most affected by the presence of and conflicts between illegal armed groups. In the Mission's concept, the high rates of inequity and the weak state presence deepen these effects.

The Chief of the MAPP/OAS, Roberto Menéndez, called on the State in all its dimensions to deliver concrete results and full guarantees of security to the people.

"We insist on the need for coordination between existing national and local bodies for the prevention and protection of social leaders, for a strong link between the departmental governments and municipalities, and for a guarantee of the participation of the affected populations," said Menéndez. He noted that it is essential that the government continue in the formulation of a comprehensive public policy in this regard.

In the period referred to in the report, the Mission monitored and accompanied an important number of social mobilizations that claim, within the framework of legitimate social protest, access to rights and compliance with historic agreements and debts. Faced with this, the Mission was pleased to note the government's willingness to privilege social dialogue as a response and solution to these dynamics.

The MAPP/OAS also carried out special follow-up to the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition, resulting from the Agreements between the Government of Colombia and the ex-guerrilla of the FARC-EP. The document indicates that the main challenge of the State regarding the System is to guarantee its viability, and its normative, financial and political stability, as well as the effective access of the victims to it.

As a prelude to the presentation of the Report, the MAPP/OAS presented at the OAS headquarters in Washington, United States, the photographic exhibition "15 Years of Peace," which portrays the territorial work of the Mission in the context of the conflict, as well as the peace efforts that, with solidarity, conviction and independence, it has supported since 2004.

Reference: E-031/19