Special Event: The Post-Conflict Stage in Colombia and the Strategies to Address Illicit Crops

María Ángela Holguín, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Colombia: The Peace Agreements contemplate that FARC gives up their involvement in the cocaine trade, including peasants abandoning their coca cultivation. The purpose of the agreement was to tackle the root causes of the conflict. Ending violence, but also deep reasons. We wanted to sever the financial sources of violence, rural livelihoods, transform society.

Yury Fedotov, UNODC: The agreement involves sustainable rural and alternative development, and strengthening of the rule of law. Cocaine production, as well as other illicit sources of income were identified as fuelling and perpetuating the conflict. The Colombian government, with the assistance of the international community, will be able to promote alternative and rural development in places were it was unthinkable to be able to do so. If we want to help transform coca areas into communities where the rule of law is sustainable and and alternative economy can survive, we need to be determined; make sure alternative and rural development are fully incorporated in the strategy. The key elements of the strategy include access to land/provision of land title, rule of law, etc. UNODC is committed to provide support. The Agreement is a major landmark but much more work remains to be done. The implementation offers a historic agreement to bring down coca cultivation and dismantle drug production and trafficking network, which threaten to spoil the Peace Progress. UNODC will support Colombia addressing those challenges. Our office in Bogota works hard to provide assistance. It’s one of the biggest presences of UNODC worldwide. I hope the international community will join in supporting these outcomes. The Outcome Document reiterated the commitment for drug policies bolstered by development.

Rafael Pardo Rueda, Minister of Labour of Colombia : At the end of November of last year, president Santos and FARC leaders signed an agreement by which a long conflict was put to an end. The fourth subject has to do with illicit drugs. We are aware that the conflict regarding illicit drugs and illicit coca crops have been fuelled for years. The Peace Agreement faces a number of challenges. First, develop the legal framework of the agreement. Enacting 113 laws in 6 months. Second, that the rural life in Colombia is changed radically. Third, demobilise in a decent a productive way, the FARC members. 7,000 of them live in temporary camps. 12-14,000 of them in said camps. They need to be reintegrated to civil life in an appropriate way. We noted a substantive increase (40%) of coca cultivation. This concentrates in 5 departments. Where 81% of coca leaf cultivation is located. Colombia tackled the issue of illicit cultivation in a frontal way. We want a policy that will allow us to reach a sustainable peace. As long as coca is cultivated in that way, there’s no chance for peace. As long as there’s a coca bush, someone will buy the leaves, someone will process it into cocaine. And that someone is part of a mafia, an illicit group. Eliminating coca is essential for sustainability of the agreement. Our strategy to address and counter the drug problem focuses on: agricultural development of areas where coca is cultivated, dealing with consumption from a public health approach and (…). In terms of cultivation, the goals is to reduce 100,000 hectares, through the Peace Agreement and through forced eradication. We have also developed a National Comprehensive Program for Illicit Crops. The substitution programme aims, through community participation at the lowest possible level, to manage to agree for an alternative source of livelihood to be adopted. This takes the shape of local assemblies. The community signs a “General Agreement”, which involves family signing on to it, and then voluntarily eradicate. The FARC and the Government attend these assemblies. This voluntary agreement allows us to better monitor the evolution of the implementation of the agreement. The Government compensates for the crop eradication: 340$/month for up to 12 months. For the implementation of self sustaining and food security projects, we offer a one off payment of 605$. On the second year of productive projects of alternative livelihood, we will provide 3,300$. Technical assistance for the equivalent of $1,000 will be provided per family. This will only apply to small growers. Large growers and new cultivation will not have access to this stimulus. The last stage of the process is the attribution of land titles. So far, 72,000 families are involved (in less than 3 months). This policy of voluntary substitution within the framework of the Agreement, we expect, will change the landscape of coca cultivation in the country. For four reasons that are new: 1) We are tackling endemic zones of cultivation where we had not seen AD programmes. 2) This programme is part of the Agreements, which counts with the support of FARC. 3) (…). 4)We are working with the communities to achieve this goal.

Bente Angell-Hansen, Norway / CND Chair: 

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