Peace talks to end decades long war have made progress with a final deal due to be signed in March
The United Nations agreed on Monday to monitor the expected end of a half-century conflict between the Colombian government and Farc rebels, in a move hailed as an important step towards peace.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that, at the request of the two sides, establishes a “political mission” with unarmed international observers.
The mission will be in place for at least 12 months to supervise and check the laying down of arms, and be part of a tripartite body to “monitor and verify the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities” between Bogota and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels, the resolution said.
Juan Manuel Santos, Colombian President, said: “The Security Council’s decision means we are no longer going alone, but hand in hand with the UN, the entire world, towards the end of this war.”
Britain’s envoy to the United Nations, whose country submitted the measure, also hailed the resolution’s adoption.
Matthew Rycroft said: “It is an important step towards peace in Colombia, we are delighted of such strong support.
“It’s the first time for I don’t know how long… since a country chose to come to the Security Council of its own volition and have a UN authorisation around important parts of a peace deal.”
The resolution requests that Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, begin preparations for such a mission now and submit details on its size, operational aspects and mandate for Security Council consideration and approval within 30 days of the signing of a peace agreement.
Diplomats said the mandate and operational details of the deployment of observers – to be recruited from members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) – were to be dealt with by a second resolution, which could be adopted in February when Venezuela holds the council’s rotating presidency.
Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, Colombian foreign minister, said: “I would like to convey to the members of the council that their willingness to work with Colombia on this matter is essential for the success of the process.
“We see our future with hope in our capacity for reconciliation, essential in renewing our society.”
Peace talks between Bogota and the Marxist Farc, held in the Cuban capital Havana, have made several key advances in recent months, and the two sides have set a deadline of March 23 to sign a final accord – though the Farc have warned that “substantial” obstacles could get in the way.
They have signed deals on four of the six agenda items at the talks: justice for victims, land reform, political participation for ex-rebels and fighting the drug trafficking that has fueled the conflict in the world’s largest cocaine-producing country.
The unsettled issues are disarmament and the mechanism by which the final accord will be ratified.