Message from the Secretary General of the UN on the signature of the Peace Agreement in Colombia

Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary General of UN Ban Ki-Moon. Photo: UN Women.

Cartagena, 26 September 2016

 

Excellencies,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am deeply moved to see so many thousands of Colombians here today.

 

I am honored to be here to celebrate your achievement and that of countless Colombians who never lost hope in peace. 

 

When I first visited Colombia five years ago, the adoption of the Victims’ Law had begun to build the foundations for peace.

 

You had the vision to bring the victims to the forefront. What they have lost can never be restored. Yet victims have been among the most forceful voices for peace and reconciliation, and against bitterness and hatred.  Their example should be an inspiration to all.

 

I commend the parties for the first steps they have taken to acknowledge responsibility for tragic events of this conflict.  I encourage you to continue on this path.  I welcome the commitments you have made to ensure truth, justice and reparations for all victims. This is how healing begins.

 

A cease-fire is in effect.  Violence in the country has been reduced significantly.  Lives have already been saved.  The initial release of minors is a welcome beginning.

 

I commend the negotiating teams that worked tirelessly in Havana for four years. You showed the courage that will be needed in the crucial period ahead. 

 

 

The agreements promise not only to stop the armed conflict, but to create the conditions for lasting peace based on equitable development, human rights and inclusion.  These agreements envision a peace that values and ensures the participation of women, and a future in which there is room in politics for all, but no room in politics for violence.

 

The divisions and distrust from decades of conflict run deep.  Yet I hope that the Colombian people can overcome the pain, join together and make this a truly national project. 

 

The peace process has been led by Colombians every step of the way.

 

The international community has been privileged to support you in this effort. 

 

Now, the Parties have entrusted important responsibilities to the United Nations, which the Security Council has endorsed unanimously. The United Nations Mission in Colombia, tasked with the verification of the cease-fire and the laying down of arms, is already deployed throughout the country.  Its verification mandate is activated with the signing of this agreement. I thank the countries from within and beyond the region that are providing observers.

 

The United Nations system in Colombia will also be there to help implement the agreements, building on many years of engagement on peacebuilding and our work with victims and communities. We will continue to offer our support to address the human rights and humanitarian challenges that persist.  I am encouraged to know that there is already excellent collaboration among the Mission, the larger UN system in the country and our Colombian partners. 

 

I would like to recognize the invaluable contribution of Cuba and Norway, as guarantors of the process, together with Chile and Venezuela as accompanying countries.

 

Peacemakers working in other parts of the world are already studying Colombia's peace process for lessons that can inform their efforts.

 

The challenge now is to convert the vision that was so carefully crafted in Havana into transformative change here in Colombia, especially in some of the most remote and historically neglected regions of the country.  Demonstrating early dividends will be crucial for building confidence.

 

As we celebrate this extraordinary achievement, I encourage the parties to remain as strongly committed to implementing the agreements as they were to reaching them.  I encourage them to welcome in this endeavor the contributions of all who are part of this diverse and vibrant nation: civil society, the private sector, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, women and youth.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

But now, thanks to painstaking, visionary dialogue, you can look ahead with optimism. 

 

You are inviting Colombians to join you in "pasando la página a un futuro en paz" -- turning the page to a future in peace.

 

Today, Colombians are bidding farewell to decades of flames, and sending up a bright flare of hope that illuminates the entire world.

 

Viva la Paz!

 

Viva Colombia!

 

Viva Colombia… en Paz!