Americas: New Mission in Colombia ‘unprecedented’ in history of UN ceasefire observation – Ban

The United Nations political mission that is being deployed in Colombia will be an “unprecedented experience” in the country, as well as in the history of UN ceasefire observations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.

BanKimoon 1703UN Photo/Amanda Voisard (file)

New York, March 17, 2016.- In an opinion piece published this week in the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, the Secretary-General congratulates the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) for taking the “courageous decision” to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Mr. Ban noted that the joint request for UN involvement to verify a future ceasefire is also a sign of the “seriousness” of the commitment to end the more than five-decade long conflict and make the peace process irreversible.

The joint request from parties to an internal conflict to the Organization “had not been seen at the UN in more than a decade,” he wrote, adding also that the response of the Security Council, which unanimously adopted and co-sponsored the ensuing resolution, “was an unusual event in the history of the institution.”

The Council, agreed to the UN Mission in Colombia for 12 months, as part of a tripartite monitoring and verification mechanism for a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and the laying down of arms.

This monitoring arrangement, shared with the Government and FARC-EP “has no exact precedent in the history of UN ceasefire observation,” Mr. Ban said, but it does hold several advantages.

Among these, the arrangement provides each party and the Colombian society with impartial observers to monitor compliance and a high level of transparency.

The joint ceasefire observation team will also be expected to build trust among members of the security forces and the FARC-EP, Mr. Ban said.

He stressed that the international observers working under the UN flag would not carry weapons or engage in armed action of any kind, nor would their role be to carry out cooperation projects, as is the case with UN agencies, funds and programmes in the country.

“The sole purpose of this international observation mission is simple: to help ensure that what has been agreed in Havana with respect to the ceasefire and laying down of arms will be carried out in Colombia; and that the commitments made by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, to each other and to society are fully implemented,” Mr. Ban said.

The UN chief said he had informed the Security Council a few days ago that steps will be taken so that the observers can be deployed in Colombia before the peace agreement is signed.

Mr. Ban extended the support of the Organization, along with the Member States, particularly those in South America, to ensure the success of the peace process.

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