U.N. Security Council forms mission to monitor Colombia-FARC peace process

Last year, the Colombian government and the FARC set a March 23, 2016 deadline for a peace accord.
By Fred Lambert  |  Jan. 26, 2016 at 6:16 PM
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BOGOTA, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The United Nations Security Council on Monday agreed to form an unarmed political mission to oversee a peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Made up of observers from Latin American and Caribbean nations, the U.N. mission -- which was jointly requested by the FARC and Bogota's government during negotiations in Havana, Cuba -- will have a one-year mandate to observe a bilateral cease-fire.

"The Security Council's decision means we are no longer going alone, but hand in hand with the U.N., the entire world, toward the end of this war," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is reported to have said in televised remarks.

More than 220,000 people have been killed and millions more have been displaced during Colombia's ongoing civil war between the government and left-wing rebels of the FARC. The unrest has been going on for more than a half century.

Negotiators from both sides have engaged in talks in Havana since 2012.

The BBC quoted British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft as saying he hoped the Monday agreement "will mark the start of the final stage of peace talks."

The FARC and Colombian government have come to terms on several key issues, including political representation of the rebels, victim reparations, land rights and punishment of war criminals. However, other matters, like land mine removal and guerrilla re-integration, have yet to be resolved.

In September 2015, Santos and FARC chief Timoleon Jimenez said they wanted an agreement in six months, but last month senior FARC negotiator Jesus Santrich reportedly said the March deadline could not be reached because government negotiators were "changing the rules of the game."

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