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UN Security Council approves peace mission in Colombia

[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] on Monday unanimously approved a resolution [text] authorizing the creation of political peace mission in Colombia to monitor the disarmament between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC). The mission is to last 12 months, and a team of unarmed international observers will "monitor and verify" the disarmament as the government and FARC end the civil war that has persisted for nearly 50 years. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power [official profile] released a statement explaining [text] her vote in favor of the resolution. Noting that this "conflict has taken on the Colombian people over the last 50 years," she concluded that today's vote recognizes Colombia's "step in [the] direction of peace." This mission is a part of the cease-fire agreement [text] the Colombian Government and FARC reached last week implementing a "tripartite mechanism of monitoring and verification of the accord for a bilateral and definitive cessation of fire and hostilities and leaving aside of weapons" which included members of the Colombian Government, members of FARC, and an "international component" that will serve to monitor progress.

Criminal activity by illegal armed groups has been an ongoing issue within Colombia, with progress made during peace talks last year. Last year Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos pardoned [JURIST report] 30 former guerrilla soldiers in jail for non-violent crimes. In June 2014 the country's government and the FARC rebels agreed to create [JURIST report] a truth commission to investigate the deaths of thousands of people in the last five decades of the country's conflict. In March 2014 Human Rights Watch issued a report [JURIST report] stating that illegal armed groups have caused hundreds of people [official report, PDF] to flee Colombia's main Pacific port of Buenaventura in the previous two years. And in August 2013 Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled [JURIST report] that a law providing reduced penalties for rebels who confess crimes related to their membership in illegal armed groups is constitutional. FARC has been fighting the Colombian government since 1964, seeking to establish a communist government in the Republic of Colombia.

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