Statement by Executive Director on the agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC

Yesterday’s agreement between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) marks a definite step on the road to peace. It is an occasion to be hopeful for the future and to strengthen our resolve to support this exemplary peace process.

As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has highlighted, this historic bilateral ceasefire agreement demonstrates that through perseverance, dialogue and dignity it is possible to end a war which has affected so many women and men in Colombia.

UN Women stands in solidarity with the Colombian women who have become an unstoppable force for peace despite suffering so much in this war. In Havana, the women at the table were key to making this arrangement possible. We welcome the inclusion of a gender perspective among the principles to guide this historic agreement, and call for the leadership and protection of women throughout its implementation, including in the important task that the UN verification mission will undertake.

Contrary to most peace negotiations in history, in this agreement women have had a significant presence and influence at the peace table itself, at the gender sub-commission formed by the women of both negotiating sides, in national forums and regional consultations throughout the country, and through the powerful testimony of victims, community leaders, and human rights defenders who have visited Havana repeatedly and have been a constant reminder for negotiators of the importance of their task. Their success builds on to the growing evidence that women’s participation in peace processes increases the likelihood that a peace agreement will be reached, and strengthens our argument that inclusive negotiations are not just a moral imperative or a long-term aspirational goal, but an urgent operational necessity.

This agreement serves as a promise that no more men and women from Colombia will suffer the effects of the war, but will instead contribute to generating the conditions for a peaceful Colombia where all citizens can enjoy their full potential.

This moment calls for us to live up to the positive example set by Colombia and to ensure that, just as these peace negotiations have been different from others, the UN verification mission will also be different, more inclusive, and more respectful of gender equality. As we celebrate this new step and look forward to the journey ahead, let us not forget the sacrifice and effort of Colombian women, and the importance that their leadership and participation must have in the final stage of this peace process and the implementation of all agreements. UN Women stands ready to support Colombia in this endeavour.