Adoption of Resolution 2261 (2016) Step towards Ending Region’s Longest Conflict
The Security Council today decided to establish a political mission of unarmed international observers to monitor and verify for one year the laying down of arms by the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC-EP), should they agree to end a civil war that has raged for half a century, the longest in Latin America.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2261 (2016), the Council decided that the mission would monitor and verify a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities between the parties, following the signing of the Final Peace Agreement. The mission would be the coordinator of a “tripartite mechanism”, foreseen by the parties to be included in the Final Peace Agreement, and headed by a special representative of the Secretary-General.
The adoption of the resolution, tabled by the United Kingdom, follows a 19 January letter (document S/2016/53) to the Council President from the President of Colombia and the leader of FARC-EP, requesting the participation of the United Nations in the Agreement’s tripartite mechanism. It outlines the progress made on fundamental issues over the past three years and contains a Joint Communiqué issued by Colombia and FARC-EP in Havana on 19 January. The Communiqué is the result of a peace process started in 2012.
To create the mission, the Council requested, by terms of the resolution, that the Secretary-General initiate preparations now and present recommendations on the size, operational aspects and mandate of the mission, consistent with the Joint Communiqué, within 30 days of the signature of the ceasefire agreement. It further requested that he report on implementation of the mission’s mandate every 90 days after the start of its activities. In that connection, the Council looked forward to contributions from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
During the ensuing debate, speakers welcomed the adoption and prospects for ending the bloodshed that had claimed more than 220,000 lives and displaced 6 million people. Many noted that Colombia was on the cusp of a historic agreement and praised Cuba, Norway, Chile and Venezuela for their involvement.
“It isn’t often that a country refers itself to the Council,” said the United Kingdom’s delegate, expressing hope that the current phase would be the final stage in the peace talks. “Together we can ensure that the implementation of this resolution is swift and effective.”
Venezuela’s representative, noting that his country had welcomed some 5 million Colombians, urged support for the neighbouring country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and for its ability to manage its internal affairs. Uruguay’s Foreign Minister, Council President for January, added that the end of hostilities would mean Latin America was free from conflict.
Colombia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia thanked the Council for the resolution’s unanimous adoption, saying Colombians had requested the Council’s support in implementing the agreement for the laying down of arms, as well as monitoring and verifying the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. The Council’s willingness to work with Colombia was essential for the success of that process. “We see our future with hope in our capacity for reconciliation, essential in renewing our society,” she said.
Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, China, Spain, France, New Zealand, Japan, Ukraine, Malaysia, Angola, Egypt and Senegal.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 4:05 p.m.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said his delegation was a great supporter of the search for peace, which had long eluded Colombia, adding that it was to the credit of the parties that had worked together to bring the matter to the Council. “It isn’t often that a country refers itself to the Council,” he noted, expressing hope that the current phase would be the final stage in the peace talks. “Together we can ensure that the implementation of this resolution is swift and effective,” drawing upon the unity found today.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said her delegation had co-sponsored and voted in favour of the resolution. The impetus of the Bolivarian ideal had long united Venezuela with Colombia and other Latin American neighbours. For decades, the world had watched in sorrow as Colombians had fought each other, he recalled, adding that any deeply Bolivarian republic could not watch idly as the tragedy unfolded. Venezuela had welcomed some 5 million Colombians. He called for support for Colombia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for its ability to manage its own internal affairs.
SAMANTHA POWER (United States) noted that the conflict in Colombia had claimed some 220,000 lives, while the Government had registered some 6 million displaced people. After nearly four years in negotiations, “Colombia is on the precipice of a historic agreement”, she said, emphasizing that a new chapter could open if the fighting truly ended. The resolution adopted today represented the United Nations answer to the joint call by the Government and the FARC-EP to engage in the peace process. With its vote today, the United States had underscored its continuing partnership with Colombia, she emphasized, pointing out that her country had supported Government efforts to seek a sustainable peace, and it would continue to do so. Going forward, victims and vulnerable individuals would need access to justice and other services, landmines would need to be removed and the Government must expand the rule of law while boosting economic activities in formerly war-affected areas. Much would rest on implementation, she stressed.
VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) welcomed the 23 September 2015 agreement signed by the President of Colombia and the leader of the FARC-EP on a timeline for achieving a final peace agreement, as well as the 19 January Joint Communiqué. Saying his delegation believed that countries would respond positively to a request for unarmed observers, he emphasized Cuba’s role in finding mutually acceptable solutions to the most complex problems. The Russian Federation had championed rapid conclusion of the peace process, and the agreements reached, as well as today’s resolution, would be a milestone towards peace and a final settlement.
LIU JIEYI (China), welcoming the resolution’s adoption, said the parties were expected to sign a peace agreement that would end a civil war that had lasted half a century, while providing an example for resolving other hot spots. Commending both sides for engaging in “dialogue for peace”, he expressed hope that the resolution would push for the early signature and full implementation of a peace agreement. China would be prepared for deployment of the special political mission.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) congratulated Colombia for its efforts towards reconciliation among all its citizens. For the Council, it was a historic day given the adoption of a resolution that had enjoyed both 15 votes in favour as well as 15 co-sponsors. Offering his country’s experience in peace processes as a member of the United Nations and the European Union, he said Spain would always be by Colombia’s side.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said it had not been often in the Council’s history that a country had requested assistance with its own peace process. Moreover, the Council’s quick response demonstrated that it was a “central, legitimate and trustworthy player” in the maintenance of international peace and security. Noting that his country had supported Colombia financially and with expertise, he expressed hope that the mission would help the country rapidly restore peace.
GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) described the Council’s quick and flexible response to Colombia’s request as a positive development and praised the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP for their work towards peace. He also welcomed the role that the region as a whole had played in the peace process. “No one expects the road ahead to be easy, but as was demonstrated today, the United Nations and the Security Council are here to help”, he said.
TAKESHI AKAHORI (Japan), noting that his country had also co-sponsored the resolution, welcomed today’s adoption of the text. Japan had been engaged in demining and other support activities for Colombia and would continue to support the country — including financially — going forward.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) welcomed the major breakthrough in peace negotiations, especially on justice, the laying down of arms and a time frame. The peace talks in Havana had led to progress in ending the 50-year-old conflict, the oldest in Latin America. Underlining the important roles of Norway and Cuba as guarantors and of Chile and Venezuela as accompanying countries, he said today’s resolution would strengthen the role of the United Nations in peacebuilding. Colombia’s initiative to engage the Organization as part of the tripartite mechanism would bring stability to the region, he said, adding that such models should be replicated.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) said the resolution authorized a special political mission of unarmed international observers to monitor and verify the laying down of arms. Pending its start, the parties should spare no effort to achieve a speedy conclusion of a final peace agreement. The mission would help increase parties’ confidence with a view to consolidating gains made. Malaysia looked forward to the Secretary-General’s proposals on the mission’s creation.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) praised the parties for having engaged in fruitful negotiations aimed at ending the decades-long conflict. He praised Cuba and Norway for facilitating negotiations, calling upon Colombia and the FARC-EP to respect the final peace agreement. Angola hoped the future mission would carry out its tasks with professionalism and impartiality, he said.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) congratulated the people and Government of Colombia for having taken a historic step today, pointing out that his delegation had co-sponsored and voted in favour of the resolution.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal), emphasizing that a country that did not know its history was doomed to repeat its mistakes again and again, said “the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP have clearly read their history books well”, adding that they were turning a new leaf in their country’s history. From an African perspective, he said, Colombia’s historic action was a sign of hope because it was a step towards ending a conflict that had raged for five decades.
RODOLFO NIN NOVOA, Foreign Minister of Uruguay and Council President for January, spoke in his national capacity, congratulating Colombia for the “new, essential step” it had taken today. The decision had the unanimous support of the Council and the whole international community due to the clear determination of both parties to find a lasting peace, he said. Acknowledging the important role played by Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela and the United Kingdom in drafting the resolution, he said he was proud to be presiding over the Council at this moment, firstly because of the “clear empathy that we feel for the Colombian people”, and secondly because the end of the fighting would mean that Latin America was a region free from conflict.
MARÍA ANGELA HOLGUÍN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, thanked the Council for its unanimous adoption of the resolution. Colombians had sought their own consensual solutions and had come to seek the Council’s support in implementing the agreement on the laying down of arms, as well as on monitoring and verifying the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. The Council’s willingness to work with Colombia was essential for the success of those processes.
She went on to say that her country’s President believed that, after half a century of violence, an end to the conflict was possible. He had outlined a peace policy that would make the building of a prosperous, modern and safe society a reality. Negotiations had enjoyed the support of Cuba and Norway as guarantors, as well as Chile and Venezuela as accompanying countries. They had also had significant support from other countries in the hemisphere, as well as from Europe, Asia and Africa. The Secretary-General had supported the peace negotiations from the start, while his Special Envoy had been tasked with explaining how the system worked, she said. “We see our future with hope in our capacity for reconciliation, essential in renewing our society,” she added.
The full text of resolution 2261 (2016) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Underlining its full commitment to the Peace Process in the Republic of Colombia and its support for the “General Agreement to End the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace”, signed in Havana, Cuba, on 26 August 2012, between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army (FARC-EP),
“Welcoming the progress in the negotiation process, the commitment of the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP to reach a swift end to the armed conflict, and the confidence-building measures implemented in order to provide the first dividends of the peace process to the Colombian people,
“Acknowledging the request made by the Government of Colombia, through the letter dated 19 January 2016 from the President of Colombia addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council of the United Nations (S/2016/53), which encloses the Joint Communiqué between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP,
“Noting that the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP foresee that the Final Peace Agreement will include a tripartite mechanism to monitor and verify the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and the laying down of arms; and recognising the contribution that a United Nations observer mission can make in the context of the tripartite mechanism,
“Recognising further that the request made through the Government of Colombia refers to the participation of the United Nations as the international component of the above-mentioned tripartite mechanism for a limited period,
“Recognising further the vital role played by the Republic of Cuba and the Kingdom of Norway as guarantors, and by the Republic of Chile and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as accompanying countries of the Peace Process in Colombia,
“Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming further the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Colombia,
“Recognising Colombia’s ownership of the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement,
“1. Decides to establish a political mission to participate for a period of 12 months, as the international component and coordinator of the above-mentioned tripartite mechanism (the Mission), headed by a special representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations;
“2. Decides further that the Mission will be a political mission of unarmed international observers, responsible for the monitoring and verification of the laying down of arms, and a part of the tripartite mechanism that will monitor and verify the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, consistent with the Joint Communiqué, beginning all monitoring and verification activities, which will commence the 12 month period, following the signing of the Final Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP;
“3. Requests the Secretary-General to initiate preparations now, including on the ground, and to present detailed recommendations to the Security Council for its consideration and approval regarding the size and operational aspects and mandate of the Mission, consistent with the Joint Communiqué, as soon as possible and then within 30 days of the signature of the ceasefire agreement by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, in light of its provisions;
“4. Looks forward to the contributions of Member States of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to the Mission;
“5. Further requests the Secretary-General, based on the reporting of the special representative to the Secretary-General, to report to the Security Council on the implementation of the Mission’s mandate every 90 days after the start of its monitoring and verification activities and on completion of the Mission;
“6. Expresses its willingness to consider extending the Mission upon the joint request of the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP.”