By Leah Cerilli
The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2261political mission to monitor a peace deal between the Colombian government and the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commonly referred to as FARC. The resolution, following a joint request by the opposing parties, sent a strong message that a final peace agreement could be reached by the March 23 deadline, according to BBC News. The mission will help monitor and verify rebel disarmament on the condition of a final peace deal being reached, and consist of unarmed observers from Latin American and Caribbean nations. According to Reuters, the council would “establish a political mission to participate for a period of 12 months…to monitor and verify the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and the laying down of arms.”
Fighting between the Colombian government and rebel group FARC, the longest-running armed conflict in the Western hemisphere, has resulted in more than 220,000 people killed and millions more displaced. Even if a final peace agreement is reached, there will still be plenty of work to be done. US Ambassador Samantha Power cautioned that there are more issues between the two sides that need to be resolved, such as the removal of landmines and the re-integration of guerillas into society. According to Al Jazeera, part of the UN resolution asks Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to make detailed recommendations on the mission’s size and operation.
Since formal peace talks began in 2012, there has been agreements on broad points such as land reform, drug trafficking, and transnational justice. The Colombian people have shown a mixed response to the peace talks and agreements. Particularly, many are critical of the fact that guerilla leaders are likely to avoid going to jail for their crimes. According to BBC, a deal on transitional justice made in September, those who admit to their crimes will be subject to “alternative forms of punishment” as opposed to ordinary prisons. Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe argues the rebels are “getting away with murder,” referring to the aforementioned amnesty offer for rebels who confess to their crimes. Others point out the high cost of reintegrating thousands of rebels into the population; former combatants will be offered psychological help and vocational training. Land reforms and replacing illegal crops with legal ones will also come at great expense.
If the final peace deal is signed, President Juan Manuel Santos the United States to remove FARC from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations and to suspend drug warrants against guerilla commanders, as reported by The Guardian. Santos also added he would like to see the US suspend arrest warrants targeting FARC’s leadership.
In 2006, US federal prosecutors accused fifty FARC leaders of supplying more than half of the world’s cocaine. Santos called these claims exaggerated, but warned that if FARC leaders continued to dabble in the drug trade, they will be extradited. Santos also pointed out that Colombia has evolved from an almost-failed state into one of the world’s fastest emerging markets, with falling levels of guerilla-linked violence. If the peace deal is finalized, demands for aid will surge as Colombia will seek to improve traditionally neglected and economically unproductive areas. Santos is optimistic that future aid will jump again and plans to discuss future funding with U.S. President Barack Obama.