Ban Ki-moon welcomes progress in Colombia's peace talks
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the agreement reached between Colombia's Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) on dealing with illicit drugs in the country.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York, Mr. Ban welcomed the agreement reached yesterday by the negotiating parties in Havana, Cuba, which, according to media reports, would see the two sides working together to combat drug trafficking.
Reports also suggest the deal calls for FARC to also cooperate with the Government to assist farmers in growing crops other than coca, the plant used to make cocaine.
“A stepped up effort under this agreement to bring alternative development to regions plagued by illicit crops should mean a better life for many Colombians,” said the UN chief in his statement, which added that the agreement would also help counter the crime and violence associated with the trade in illegal narcotics.
“The Secretary-General commends the parties and encourages them to maintain the momentum in the peace talks,” the statement concludes.
This agreement is the latest step in the ongoing Havana-based peace talks between the Colombian Government and the rebel group, FARC. In November 2013, the parties reached a deal on political participation and enhancing the role of women, which the Secretray-General also welcomed.
The United Nations System in Colombia also welcomed on 17 May the declaration of unilateral ceasefire by the FARC-EP and ELN. This measure will save lives and facilitate the country's electoral process.
The UN in Colombia also noted that illegal armed actors are obliged to respect international humanitarian law and human rights. Previous incidents included the use of children to transport and launch explosive, which the UN team in Colombia highlights should be investigated and "should not go unpunished."
Some 600,000 people have died and around six million have been affected since the conflict between the country's authorities and the FARC began more than half a century ago. The two sides are working to end the long-running conflict through full imeplementation of the General Agreement for the End of the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace, signed two years ago.
*with information from the UN News Centre and UNDP Colombia