Colombian govt, FARC rebels ask UN to monitor peace

 20 Jan 2016 - 2:15

Colombian govt, FARC rebels ask UN to monitor peace


Havana: Colombia's government and FARC rebels said Tuesday they have asked the United Nations to monitor the eventual end of their five-decade conflict, raising hopes they are close to a peace deal.

Negotiators from both sides said they had asked the UN Security Council to send an unarmed observer mission to Colombia for 12 months to oversee the disarmament of the Marxist guerrilla group and the end of the conflict.

They said the "political mission" would work alongside the FARC and the government in a tripartite body over which the UN observers will preside, overseeing a ceasefire, settling disputes, making recommendations and issuing reports.

"This entity will begin work once the accord is signed," said government and rebel negotiators in a joint statement in Havana, where they have been holding peace talks since November 2012.

The mission will comprise observers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a 33-nation regional group.

The government's chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, called it a "particularly significant step" toward peace.

"Peace in Colombia is possible," said his rebel counterpart, Ivan Marquez.

The two sides have made several key advances in recent months, notably in September, when they signed a deal on post-conflict justice and President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC chief Timoleon Jimenez vowed to conclude a peace accord within six months.

But the FARC said last week that "substantial hurdles" were jeopardizing the March 23 deadline.

The two sides have signed deals on four of the six agenda items at the peace 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.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was launched in the aftermath of a peasant uprising in 1964.

The Colombian conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced six million, has over the years drawn in right-wing paramilitaries, drug traffickers and several leftist rebel groups, of which the FARC is the largest remaining.

A rival rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has held exploratory talks with the government but has yet to join the peace process.