BOGOTA — On the 25th of January 2016, the UN unanimously approved a peace mission in Colombia. The UN will assemble a team of Latin American and Caribbean un-armed observers to oversee the bilateral ceasefire, if a peace agreement is reached between the Colombian government and the FARC.

The armed conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has not only claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people but it is also the longest running violent conflict in the wester hemisphere.

Peace talks have been in the air for a while, but more seriously since Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochencko, agreed in September 2015 that they wanted to reach an agreement within six months.

The deadline for a peace agreement has been set for the 23rd of March, after which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will have 30 days to make detailed decisions on the missions size and operation, given an agreement is reached.

Humberto de la Calle, the Colombian government’s lead negotiator described the moment both sides asked the UN for assistance as a “transcendental” moment. He also added that this was an “unequivocal demonstration of our desire to end confrontation.”

US UN Ambassador Samantha Power stated that issues that still need resolving include the removal of landlines and the reintegration of the FARC guerrilla fighters into the population. Meanwhile British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said, “I hope today will mark the final stage of peace talks.”

The UN was asked to get involved during peace talks that took place in Cuba the week of the 19th of January. Rycroft added, “It isn’t common for a country to refer itself to the council, but it’s exactly the kind of role the United Nations should be playing.” The UN  have agreed to a 12-month mission that could be extended if requested by both parties.

– Paul Carlsen, Correspondent (South America)