President Iván Duque addressed the UN Security Council on Tuesday for his last time as Colombia’s head of state. With just over two months before the presidential election on May 29, President Duque highlighted his administration’s track record with the peace process, humanitarian demining, counter-narcotics and crop substitution, human rights and reparations to victims.
“In the last 40 years, Colombia has had several peace processes with illegal armed groups, some more successful than others, some with better results than others, but there has been a constant institutional assessment in seeking the principles of demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration,” said Duque, accompanied by Foreign Minister and vice-President Marta Lucia Ramírez. “From the first day that we announced the Peace with Legality policy, we made a call to the United Nations so that the Observation Mission would accompany the 2016 peace process and be present with us during our four years of government,” he added.
President Duque also highlighted that with the National Development Plan, the government has made unprecedented investments in public infrastructure, services and education to reach “territories, where, with or without a peace agreement, there has been a historical debt,” he said. “Drug trafficking is the greatest enemy of the construction of peace in Colombia.”
“There are no enemies of peace within our institutions and democracy. We all want it, we all work for it, and the only enemies of peace are those who, through violence, have wanted to affect our nation,” he said. “The greatest challenge in a peace process is not the signature; it is development over time, and process that should last three more administrations.”
Addressing a council that has faced severe criticism in recent weeks for allowing Russia to veto a motion to prosecute Putin for war crimes, or in the words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, “must either ensure coercion of any aggressor or dissolve”, President Duque took advantage of the global forum to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stating directly to the Ambassador of the Federation, that “it is very important that those who today are harming a defenseless people, and committing fratricidal acts, do not intend to send messages of peace to the world.”
Duque went on to remind member states that “those who are sowing war and desolation have no moral authority” and that the “sadness that is experienced in Ukraine is the sadness of all humanity.”
President Duque, in his final remarks, also drew attention to threats facing Colombia in the upcoming election. “Peace in Colombia is not a political or electoral matter; it is not an ideological matter, it does not have individual owners; it is the collective purpose of a whole nation and its institutions.”