Moving Colombia's peace forward is 'moral obligation,' says UN chief
5 years have passed since peace accord between Colombia and former rebel group FARC was signed
Five years after Colombia’s historic peace deal was signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group, UN chief said on Wednesday Colombia has a "moral obligation" to advance the peace agreement.
“After more than five decades of conflict, and aware of the suffering it caused and which we have had the opportunity to acknowledge here today, we have a moral obligation to ensure that this peace process succeeds,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said while marking the five-year anniversary of the signing of the document.
Guterres celebrated the progress made to implement Colombia's 2016 peace deal and said efforts must be made to overcome the challenges it faces.
The peace agreement, said Guterres, "gave rise to hope and inspiration in Colombia and throughout the international community".
On Tuesday, the UN chief visited a town in the Department of Antioquia where former combatants and civilians are living and working side by side.
President Ivan Duque also spoke about the progress that has been made during his administration in the implementation of the agreement.
”This has to be a moment of many reflections but I want to say with pride that peace with legality advances because we want a better society,” he said at the event.
However, human rights defenders and political opponents have criticized the Duque government for failing to implement que peace accords.
The president has sought to amend aspects of the peace agreement, saying it generates impunity. His political party and its leader, former President Alvaro Uribe, mobilized the country in 2016 to defeat a referendum on the deal.
On Tuesday, Uribe sent Guterres a letter stating that the agreement "was an anti-democratic imposition".
"There has not been a Peace Accord,” stressed Uribe, who said it gave “total impunity and political eligibility to people responsible for atrocious crimes, for example, kidnapping and rape of minors".
As part of the five-year celebration of the peace accord, President Duque shook hands with his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos, with whom he has had many differences.
The event was also attended by the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre and former FARC combatant and leader of the Comunes party, Rodrigo Londono, who celebrated the US President Joe Biden administration’s plan to remove Colombian rebels from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that his country will continue to cooperate with Colombia to support the peace process.