In Havana, Cuba, today to witness the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement and laying down of weapons between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the importance of the historic event as an exemplary implementation of peace.
“On this day, in a world beset by seemingly intractable wars, the peace process in Colombia delivers on a key commitment: an agreement on a ceasefire and the laying down of weapons,” the Secretary-General said.
“Today the Colombian peace process validates the perseverance of all those around the world who work to end violent conflict not through the destruction of the adversary, but through the patient search for compromise,” he added.
Since 2012, the FARC and the Colombian Government have been in talks hosted in Havana, seeking to end a 51-year conflict. Throughout the discussions, negotiators have reached agreement on key issues such as political participation, land rights, illicit drugs and victims’ rights and transitional justice.
Mr. Ban expressed admiration for the negotiating teams, which he said have demonstrated that it is possible to “achieve peace with dignity for all concerned.”
“They have overcome tense moments and challenging issues to arrive at an historic achievement,” he stressed.
Congratulating the Governments of Cuba and Norway for devoting “considerable diplomatic skills” to the peace process, the Secretary-General said that they, together with the accompanying countries, Chile and Venezuela, have shown how national peace efforts can be supported faithfully, discreetly and effectively.
He also recalled that six months ago, the UN Security Council and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) had responded to the call of the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, and made a commitment to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the laying down of weapons. “The signing of this essential component of the peace agreement will strengthen this commitment. It will now be crucial to mobilize the people and resources required for monitoring and verification,” Mr. Ban said.
Acknowledging that the peace talks continue and that “significant issues” are still outstanding, the Secretary-General said he trusted that today’s achievement will provide renewed momentum towards the last phase of the negotiations.
“Expectations are now high that the vision articulated in the agreements reached over the past three years will soon become a reality. I strongly encourage you to fulfil these hopes,” the UN chief said.
“We at the United Nations are determined to do everything we can, alongside the Government and the FARC-EP, to translate a remarkable negotiating process into exemplary implementation of the peace commitments made,” he added.
In conclusion, Mr. Ban noted that it was a privilege to participate in the event in his last year as Secretary-General.
“It is an honour to be by your side in laying the groundwork for lasting peace and a better future for all the country’s people. Let us now work together so that the promise of peace made today in Havana is fulfilled in Colombia,” he said.
The Secretary-General also met today with the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, during which Mr. Ban congratulated the Government of Colombia on the important agreement reached, noting that it was a clear demonstration of the parties’ commitment to reach a final peace agreement in the near future. They also discussed ongoing preparations for the deployment of the UN Mission in Colombia.
In a separate meeting, the Secretary-General talked with the commander of the FARC-EP, Timoleón Jiménez, discussing progress made so far in the peace talks and pending matters, including the transition of FARC-EP combatants into civilian life.
In addition, Mr. Ban met with President Nicolás Maduro Moros of Venezuela and commended Venezuela for its role in the Colombian peace process. He called for an inclusive political dialogue in Venezuela. This afternoon, the Secretary-General will leave Havana to start his official visit to France on Friday.