Two days after the Colombia's government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels announced they had reached a final peace deal to end decades of conflict, the United Nations Security Council yesterday warmly welcomed the historic deal and pledged to help ensure the agreement takes hold.
The council met behind closed doors and signaled its approval for the accord to end a 52-year-old guerrilla war.
"The Council warmly welcomes the conclusion of negotiations in Havana this week between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC-EP, and congratulates the people of Colombia in achieving a final peace agreement, bringing an end to over 50 years of conflict," said Siti Hajjar Adnin, deputy permanent representative of Malaysia to the UN.
The deal, opposed by two former Colombian presidents, still needs to be voted on in a plebiscite. Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos said that Colombians would decide to approve or reject the peace accord in a plebiscite vote on October 2.
"The Council reiterated its commitment to supporting implementation of the ceasefire agreement, cessation of hostilities and the laying down of arms through the UN political mission in Colombia," Adnin told reporters following the Security Council's closed-door consultations on Colombia.
UN to set up special mission to monitor ceasefire
Under the peace deal, the FARC will begin moving its estimated 7,000 fighters from their jungle and mountain hideouts into disarmament camps set up by the United Nations.
The FARC will then become a political party and its weapons will be melted down to build three peace monuments.
Special courts will be created to judge serious crimes committed during the conflict.
The United Nations intends to set up a special mission in the South American country to monitor the ceasefire, help disarm the rebels and verify compliance with the peace deal.
British deputy ambassador Peter Wilson said the council is considering the "next steps" to support the peace process.
The new UN mission for Colombia will be led by French national Jean Arnault and made up of 450 observers deployed in some 40 sites across the country.
A first group of observers, mostly from Latin America, has already arrived in Colombia to verify the disarmament and monitor the ceasefire.
Government will not cease persecuting crime: Defence minister
The historic ceasefire between Colombia's government and the FARC rebel group will not end the government's commitment to fighting crime, the country's defense minister said Friday.
"We are in a ceasefire (with the FARC), but will not cease persecuting crime," Luis Carlos Villegas said.
Soldiers and police would continue to combat kidnapping, extortion, drug trafficking, smuggling, illegal mining and human trafficking even after the ceasefire officially begins Monday, he added.
"We hope that this component of the ceasefire with the FARC, concerning criminal activity, will be fully implemented," he said.
More than a quarter of Colombia's 47 million people have suffered in some way as a result of the war involving rebels, right-wing paramilitary groups and government troops.
(WION with inputs from agencies)