The Security Council today moved to set up a United Nations political mission in Colombia, approving a team of international observers to monitor disarmament should the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) reach a final agreement to end Latin America’s longest armed conflict.
Unanimously adopting a United Kingdom-led resolution, the Council decided to establish a political mission for 12 months “to monitor and verify the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and the laying down of arms,” acting just days after the two sides jointly requested the UN to consider such a measure in light of progress during three years of Havana-based peace talks.
Through the resolution, the Council decided that the Mission would be made up of unarmed international observers, and a part of the tripartite mechanism that will monitor and verify the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, consistent with the wishes of the parties, beginning such activities following the signing of a Final Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP.
The FARC rebels and the Colombian Government have been in talks seeking to end a 51-year conflict that has left nearly a quarter of a million victims. Throughout the discussions, which started in Havana in 2012, negotiators have reached agreement on key issues such as the political participation, land rights, illicit drugs and victims’ rights and transitional justice.
Addressing the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level debate this past September, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said “Colombia is on the path to peace,” aiming to bring an end to the longest armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. He also announced that 23 March would be the deadline for signing a final agreement.
The measure adopted today requests UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to “initiate preparations now, including on the ground,” and to present detailed recommendations to the Council for its consideration and approval regarding the size and operational aspects and mandate of the Mission, consistent with the parties’ wishes, as soon as possible and then within 30 days of the signature of the ceasefire agreement by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, in light of its provisions.
Later in the day, through a statement issued by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Ban welcomed (SDGs) the unanimous adoption by the new resolution, noting that he was pleased by the strong commitment Council members had shown to the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in Colombia.
According to the statement, as mandated by the Council and consistent with the request of the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP, the UN chief will initiate preparations, including on the ground, so that a United Nations political mission can be fully operational when the final peace agreement is signed.
“The Secretary-General welcomes the Council’s active interest in the contributions of the Members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to the mission,” said the statement, adding in this regard, he has requested Under Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman, who is representing him at the CELAC summit to be held in Quito, Ecuador, later this week, to engage with the Members of the regional body on their contributions to the UN mission.