The UN has prepared a far-reaching mission employing hundreds of observers to verify an end to the fifty-year conflict between the government and FARC rebels. The deal is set to be tested by a referendum in October.
The UN Security Council hailed a final peace agreement between the government of Colombia and far-left rebels on Friday with a renewed commitment to implement the ceasefire. The council issued a statement promising to verify the "cessation of hostilities and the laying down of arms" by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
The conflict between Bogota and FARC has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since the 1960s, most of them civilians. But in a surprise move last January, both sides asked the Security Council to establish a mission in Colombia for the express purpose of overseeing a truce. The council authorized the measure less than a week later, in a rare unanimous decision from the 15-member group.
Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the press that the UN Peacebuilding Fund had set aside $3 million for "a project to support the collective reparations of victims in the armed conflict, and pave the way for the implementation of the peace agreement."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said that the mission will comprise some 450 observers and a number of civilian volunteers spread out in 40 locations across the country.
"I think overall the atmosphere in the council on this is extremely happy to see this very good piece of news," said Britain's deputy UN ambassador Peter Wilson. "I think these are the kinds of details that we will want to be settling in a very cooperative matter."
An end to five decades of bloodshed
The ceasefire is set to come into effect on midnight on Monday, ending fifty years of bloody conflict. FARC first took up arms ostensibly to resist what it saw as corruption and oppression of the poor by the Colombian government, but soon turned to kidnapping ransoms and eventually drug trafficking to support its cause. The protracted conflict has also involved other far-left and far-right paramilitaries over the years.
After its initial implementation, the peace deal will go to a national referendum on October 2. Although the rebel group is deeply despised by the majority of Colombians, polls suggest that they will likely endorse the deal.
There is some concern, however, that low voter turnout and the contentious agreement to grant amnesty to guerillas who confess their crimes may lead to a rejection of the resolution.
es/kl (AP, Reuters)