BOGOTA – The United Nations Security Council on Thursday began a visit to Colombia to show support for the peace deal reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, saying the process had brought an end to armed conflict in the Americas.
Council ambassadors met privately with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and hailed the progress his administration had made in ending decades of warfare.
Thanks to the success of Colombia’s peace process, Elbio Rosselli, Uruguay’s ambassador to the UN and current president of the Security Council, said the Americas had no active armed conflict from its northernmost to its southernmost points.
That makes it a role model for parts of the world where active conflicts are currently raging, some of which are having enormous impacts on their societies, he added.
Last year, the Council approved the creation of a mission to verify the bilateral cease-fire and the leaving aside of weapons by the FARC.
The ambassadors to the UN of 13 of the 15 Security Council member states arrived on Wednesday night in Bogota.
Only the United States, whose ambassador, Nikki Haley, was unable to make the trip due to scheduling conflicts, and Russia, which has not yet officially named a replacement for Vitali Churkin, who died unexpectedly in February, did not send an envoy to Colombia.
On the same day as the ambassadors’ arrival, FARC dissidents who reject the peace deal signed last year kidnapped a UN official who was working on an illegal crop substitution program.
The official, a Colombian identified as Harley Lopez, was kidnapped in Guaviare province by men under the command of alias “Ivan Mordisco,” but Santos said he was expected to be released on Thursday.
Santos noted after the meeting that it was the Security Council’s first visit to Latin America.
“We interpret this visit as ratification of the Security Council’s and the world’s support for our peace process,” the president said.
He hailed the participation of a UN mission – along with security forces and the FARC – in a tripartite cease-fire monitoring mechanism and said the truce was being upheld.
Around 7,000 FARC guerrillas have gathered at so-called Temporary Hamlet Zones for Normalization (ZVTNs) and begun laying aside their weapons and transitioning back into society, a process that is scheduled to finish on June 1.
After their meeting with Santos, the Council ambassadors sat down with political representatives at the Foreign Ministry and on Friday will conclude their stay with a visit to a ZVTN in the central Colombian province of Meta.