Ground-breaking UN Mission in Colombia won't "impose" peace accord

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Jean Arnault of France, head of UN Mission in Colombia. UN Photo/Ryan Brown (file)

A ground-breaking UN Political Mission of observers to Colombia will not seek to "impose" the new peace accord on the country.   

That's according to Jean Arnault, Special Representative and head of the new UN mission that is currently being deployed in Colombia.

In June, the Colombian government and FARC rebels signed an historic bilateral ceasefire agreement, paving the way towards lasting peace after more than 50 years of conflict.

Matthew Wells reports.

Both the Colombian government and the leadership of the FARC rebels invited the UN to become involved in the historic path towards peace, through the creation of the new UN Mission, which will serve to verify disarmament, and a lasting cessation of hostilities.

In January, the Security Council agreed a 12-month mandate for the mission, and around 80 UN observers have already arrived in Colombia.

Speaking at his first press conference since being deployed in Colombia, Mr Arnault described his mission as "complex" but they would be contributing "an additional layer of trust" to the crucial disarmament process.

"As the United Nations, we are convinced that this long negotiation offers a real chance to close the chapter of war, once and for all. And that opinion is also shared by the parties. We do not intend to impose upon you a peace accord.  We want to guarantee, to the best of our abilities, to both parties and to all Colombians, that whatever was discussed and was agreed upon in Havana, will in fact be carried out in the field."

The Special Representative explained that observers would all be Latin Americans, from a variety of civilian and military institutions.

He added that the observers should in no way be seen as a "foreign presence" and highlighted that the mission would only be temporary, as a way of cementing a final peace settlement.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'19"

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