Cartagena

26 September 2016

Secretary-General’s remarks to the press following the signing of the Colombia Peace Agreements

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, good afternoon.

It is a pleasure to be in Cartagena for the signing of the Final Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army.

I would not normally travel during the opening days of the United Nations General Assembly session.

But I wanted to demonstrate my personal commitment, and that of the entire UN system, to the historic peace process.

There are strong signs that peace is already taking root.

I commend the parties for their adherence to the cease-fire, and for the initial release of a group of minors from the FARC-EP.

Both sides have also acknowledged responsibility for human rights violations during the decades of conflict – an important admission that can help the process of healing.

The signing of the agreement today activates the mandate of the UN special political mission for the monitoring and verification of the cease-fire and the laying down of arms.

We have been preparing intensively for this moment.

Under the leadership of my Special Representative, Jean Arnault, some 200 unarmed observers and civilian staff, drawn largely from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, are already on the ground, engaging with communities and local authorities.

Their numbers will grow quickly as the next stages of the peace process are completed.

The Mission will work alongside the United Nations agencies that are already represented in Colombia. The United Nations has been supporting peacebuilding in Colombia for many years, working with victims and communities and attending to the humanitarian impact of the conflict.

We will remain vigilant to the human rights and other challenges that persist notwithstanding the end of the conflict.

Colombia’s ability to end its protracted conflict has inspired the world. Hard work lies ahead in bringing peace to life across the country. The United Nations is proud and committed to accompany Colombia on this historic journey.