The United Nations Security Council has sent a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon authorizing the UN Mission in Colombia to verify the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, following a request from the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP).
“We welcome the Security Council members’ unanimous support to the parties’ decision to maintain a bilateral and definitive ceasefire – and to the UN Mission’s work,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Mission chief, Jean Arnault, who added: “This is also a boost to Colombia’s peace process and a national consensus on a final peace agreement, to be reached as soon as possible.”
With the backing of the Security Council, the UN Mission in Colombia will roll out all functions previously approved in January when it established the operation, at the request of the parties, except those related to the laying down of arms, which will be postponed until the successful conclusion of the political dialogue and the adoption of a new Final Agreement.
Other functions include organizing operational aspects of the joint ceasefire Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, formed by the Government of Colombia, FARC-EP and coordinated by the UN Mission. It also entails visiting FARC-EP camps and Public Force units to ensure compliance with the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. The UN Mission will also liaise with local populations to ensure that their rights are being respected.
The Council’s decision comes nearly one month after Colombian voters narrowly rejected the historic peace accord between the Government and the FARC-EP meant to end the Western Hemisphere’s longest running conflict. The deal had been the culmination of four years of talks hosted in Havana, Cuba, between the two sides, and which had led to agreements on key issues such as political participation, land rights, illicit drugs and victims' rights and transitional justice.
Mr. Arnault stressed that the plebiscite results strengthened a national consensus around not returning to violence. “The Mission seeks to promote public confidence that, however complex the ongoing political dialogue may be, a point of no return has been reached in the search for peace in Colombia.”