Remarks at a UN Briefing on Colombia

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
April 5, 2017


Thank you, Special Representative Arnault, for your briefing.

Americans are grieving today, along with Colombians, for the lives lost to the terrible mudslides this weekend. We express our heartfelt condolences to the people of Colombia who were touched by this tragedy.

Special Representative Arnault, your team is playing a critical role in supporting the implementation of this historic peace accord. As my colleagues know, we’ve begun a strategic review of UN peacekeeping missions. And even though the Colombia mission is not a peacekeeping mission, the same principles of effectiveness and accountability apply. To be effective, missions must have a solid political foundation on which to build. They must have the cooperation of the host countries. They must have clear, realistic goals with identifiable exit strategies. And we, as a body, must be able to adjust these missions to fit new realities.

I want to congratulate the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism in Colombia for meeting these criteria and more. Your mission has all the pieces in place for a successful outcome. You have a carefully designed mandate supporting a clear and established peace process. You also have a clear deadline for FARC demobilization and disarmament. In that regard, I’m pleased to hear that both sides are working together towards implementation of the peace accord as quickly as possible. We are thankful for both the process they’ve created and the cooperation they’ve achieved, and we urge both sides to build on this momentum to move forward more quickly.

As this Council looks forward to continuing our support for Colombia through monitoring the next stage of the peace process, we must keep in mind the principles of effectiveness the Security Council has developed. I believe these are the building blocks of continued success in achieving lasting peace. And a lasting peace in Colombia means that the government will need to extend its authority across every corner of the state.

All parties must work with the government now to make this happen. It’s no secret that, as the FARC move into demobilization zones, they leave behind remote, lawless areas that have been largely untouched by the Colombian government. The political vacuum this has created is a dangerous threat to long-term peace. It must be filled before other armed groups, including drug-traffickers, step in.

To that end, the United States continues to enjoy strong cooperation with Colombia in combatting drug trafficking. We are providing assistance to the government in fulfilling the peace agreement to bring an end to Colombia’s illicit drug problem. We hope and expect that progress will continue.

And, as we’ve discussed today, much good has been done, but there is much more work to do. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve learned that moments of hope and of promise are truly moments to be savored. For Colombia, this is one of those moments. The United States stands with Colombia in building a lasting peace for its citizens.