The head of the UN mission in Colombia traveled to New York to ask the Security Council for permission to stay in the country.
The UN has hundreds of personnel in the country, deployed to monitor and verify a peace deal between the government and the FARC, and oversee the rebels’ demobilization and disarmament.
However, Colombians narrowly rejected the peace process in a referendum, leaving the UN without its original mandate that was valid for the 180-day period of the process.
The request to the Security Council would allow the UN to stay in Colombia under a new mandate to monitor the ceasefire between the government and the rebels while Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos seeks to necessary popular support to resume the suspended process.
Argentine General Javier Perez said that “this new stage does not only maintain a separation of forces, but also the security of the population and secures will not be illegal activities in demobilization zones.”
The UN observers will also request more troops for their new mission.
While they are formally asking for permission to stay in Colombia, the UN mission would also like additional guidelines as the failure of the referendum led to a change in the UN observers’ purpose in Colombia.
Their original mission of monitoring demobilization zones no longer applies, and “we are now talking about a separation of forces” that will require them to monitor and verify the ceasefire in far more locations and under different conditions.
Martin Santiago, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Colombia, said that “it is not the moment to abandon the communities hardest hit by the war. Today peace is much closer than it was four years ago.”
After the peace deal between the state and the FARC was nullified in the October 2 referendum, both warring parties immediately reiterated their committed to a bilateral ceasefire agreed in June and asked the UN to not leave the country.