SA commits to assist Colombia peace process

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The South African government has affirmed its commitment to assist Colombia in achieving lasting peace after years of conflict.

This commitment was made by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, South Africa’s permanent representative to the United Nations, during the Security Council meeting on Colombia on Wednesday. The meeting was also attended by Colombia and Indonesia Foreign Affairs Ministers Carlos Holmes Trujillo and Retno Marsudi.

In addressing these challenges, Matjila said, South Africa would emphasise, based on experience, the importance of working to expand the State’s presence throughout its territory.

“This is particularly necessary in areas that have been affected by conflict and vacated by former combatants. This will also help to resolve the sensitive land question and restoration of much needed basic services to all, including surrendered combatants and their family,” said Matjila.

He said South Africa also expresses its full support for Colombia’s Commission on ‘Truth, Coexistence and Non-repetition’ (Truth Commission).

“In South Africa, our very own ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’, as painful and imperfect as it may have ultimately been, was invaluable in allowing our people to confront our painful history, and to heal the deep wounds that had divided us,” he said.

“Therefore, in order to foster healing, it is important that Colombia’s justice process, embodied in its Special Jurisdiction for Peace, receive the full support and cooperation of all parties involved. Its independence, autonomy, as well as the judgments it arrives at, also need to be fully respected.”

Matjila said it is critical that the reintegration process in Colombia should involve efforts to empower local communities, in close collaboration with the private sector, universities and other stakeholders such as civil society organisations, women, victims of violence and ethnic peoples.

“On this point, it is important to recognise the important, pioneering efforts and achievements of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia in working specifically to address youth in the peace process. As the country’s future leaders, its youth and their futures are critical to the success of the peace process. This pioneering work should serve as an important example for other peace missions,” he said.

As always, Matjila added, South Africa remains ready and willing to share the experiences and lessons learned through these difficult processes, in the hope that Colombia and its people might find lasting peace and prosperity. 

He said South Africa acknowledges the role of Cuba and Norway as the guarantors and facilitators of the Colombian peace process. 

Matjila also expressed condolences to the government of Colombia and its people following the attack that claimed 20 lives in Bogotá last week.

“We condemn, in the strongest terms possible, this senseless violence which must not be allowed to threaten the hard-won and significant achievements of the peace process in Colombia,” Matjila said.

He welcomed the Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Colombia, which conveys a generally positive review of progress in achieving lasting peace in that country.

“It also, however, notes the killing of social leaders and human rights defenders, which is major concern and presents an ongoing challenge,” he said. –