After President Petro’s New Year’s Eve announcement that the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla have agreed to a bilateral ceasefire as part of the government’s “total peace” policy, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pledged “support of the United Nations to Colombia’s efforts to achieve full and lasting peace.”
Guterres also highlighted that the new ceasefire “agreement” will be monitored by national and international verification mechanisms. “The Secretary-General trusts that adherence to these commitments will reduce violence and the suffering of conflict-affected communities,” he said.
The ELN resumed peace talks with the Colombian government on November 22, and even though the first round of negotiations in Caracas, Venezuela, did not yield a ceasefire agreement, the country’s largest Marxist guerrilla issued a statement to implement a “partial agreement for emergency care”, starting in January and that covers certain areas of the western Valle del Cauca and Chocó departments. Mexico, which also agreed to serve as a guarantor country for the talks, will host the next round starting later this month.
The government’s cease-fire with ELN also extends to four other illegal armed groups – FARC dissidents of the Second Marquetalia and Central General Staff, the AGC Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia and Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra Nevada. “The agreement will be in force until June 30, 2023 and extendable depending on progress in the negotiations,” stated Petro on Twitter.
The UN Special Representative and head of mission, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, also expressed hope for renewed progress on the government’s peacebuilding commitments and willingness to end a decades-long conflict. “I am certainly confident that Colombia can demonstrate to the world, once again, that there is no better alternative to ending conflicts than through dialogue,” he said.
President Petro traveled on Sunday to Brazil where he joined other Latin American leaders for Lula da Silva’s swearing-in ceremony.