UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council on Wednesday unanimously authorized the U.N. political mission in Colombia to help verify implementation of a cease-fire agreement between the government and the country’s largest remaining guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army.
The council also expressed willingness to do the same if a cease-fire is reached with another armed group, the Estado Mayor Central.
The U.N. has been monitoring a 2016 peace accord between the government and Colombia’s then largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. It ended more than 50 years of war in which over 220,000 people died and nearly 6 million people were displaced.
More than 14,000 FARC fighters gave up their weapons under that agreement, but violence between some rebel groups has grown in parts of Colombia.
Colombia’s government asked the council to extend the U.N. mission’s verification mandate to include the June cease-fire deal with the National Liberation Army. The rebel group was founded in the 1960s by union leaders, students and priests inspired by the Cuban revolution.
The Security Council said the agreement “should contribute to improving the humanitarian situation in conflict-affected areas,” and it encouraged the government and the National Liberation Army “to continue strengthening the protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
The U.N. political mission, whose year-long mandate expires Oct. 31, has an authorized strength of 120 observers. The resolution authorizes up to 68 additional observers and an “appropriate civilian component” to take on the additional job of verifying the cease-fire with the National Liberation Army.
The council expressed willingness to consider another expansion of the U.N. mission’s mandate if a cease-fire is agreed is reached by Colombia’s government and the Estado Mayor Central armed group. The group is led by former FARC commanders who refused to join the 2016 peace deal.
Colombia’s government has ordered its military to cease attacks on several armed groups in the country Dec. 31, as part of an effort to start simultaneous peace talks with different groups.
Britain’s political coordinator, Fergus Eckersley, whose country sponsored the resolution, told the council after the vote that its unanimous adoption “demonstrates the continued commitment of the Security Council to peace in Colombia.”
Deputy Russian ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said the resolution was timely, coming just before the cease-fire agreement between the government and the National Liberation Army fully enters into force.
Brazilian Ambassador Sérgio França Danese said the U.N. mission can play “a particularly important role” in supporting a national dialogue in Colombia on the benefits of peace and on helping to implement the cease-fires.