I am honoured to be here to celebrate your achievement and that of countless Colombians who never lost hope in peace. I encourage you to continue on this path. A cease-fire is in effect…I commend the negotiating teams that worked tirelessly in Havana for four years. 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. 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 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…. 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. 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…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. 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!

– Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General

 

Today is a historic day for Colombia. I feel privileged to be in Cartagena to attend the signing ceremony of the peace agreement to end over 5 decades of conflict. I applaud the perseverance of both negotiating parties who have stayed the course throughout almost four years of negotiations. I also applaud the unfailing support of Norway and Cuba and the United Nations, which helped the parties to the peace process achieve agreement.

The people of Colombia will have their say through the plebiscite of 2 October 2016. Given the historic importance of this civil act I’m certain that millions of Colombians will exercise their right to vote.

– Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General

 

BBC: Colombia’s President Santos says Farc deal must rebuild country

“Colombia’s peace deal makes history in many ways, most of all for ending the last of the Cold War conflicts. But it also breaks new ground in trying to balance the desire for peace with the demands of justice which bedevil all peace talks. There’s no amnesty, unlike all previous peace accords in the region. The Farc, as well as Colombia’s security forces, have accepted special tribunals and a truth and reconciliation process.

Many of the victims of the Farc’s brutality have been brought into the process. If polls are to be believed, a majority will vote to accept this deal. But I kept meeting people in Bogota and Cartagena who said they would vote no. Fifty years of war also means decades of hatred and mistrust. Many doubt that the Farc will give up all its lucrative criminal activities. Will this deal also make history in being a peace deal which doesn’t fall apart?”

The Guardian: Colombian president to sign peace deal with Farc rebels today

“Colombians are nervous over how the remaining 7,000 rebels will integrate into society, but most are optimistic peace will bring more benefits than problems. ‘I can’t believe this day has finally come,’ said an excited Juan Gamarra, 43, who sells jewelry in Cartagena.Colombia has performed better economically than its neighbors in recent years, and peace should reduce security costs and open new areas for mining and oil companies. But criminal gangs could try to fill the void, and landmines hinder development.”

NPR: As of today, the Western Hemisphere has no wars

“The deal brings peace to a country that has endured more than a half-century of civil war. Yet widely overlooked is the far more sweeping notion that it brings down the curtain on six decades of nonstop conflicts in Latin America. To take an even broader view, there’s no longer a single war in the Western Hemisphere, a collection of more than 30 countries stretching from the Canadian Arctic to Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of South America.”

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