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UN backs mission to monitor Colombia peace deal

Written by Maritime First
  • Creditors Approve Hanjin Heavy’s Financial Aid

The UN Security Council has approved the creation of an unarmed mission in Colombia to oversee a bilateral ceasefire, if Farc rebels and the government sign a peace agreement.

The mission would have a mandate for a year which could be extended if both sides request it.

Negotiators for the two sides issued a joint request for the UN’s involvement last week during peace talks in Cuba.

They have set a deadline of 23 March for the signing of a peace accord.

The UN “political mission” will consist of unarmed observers from Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Colombia has seen decades of fighting between the government and the left-wing Farc movement, with more than 220,000 people killed and millions displaced in unrest which has also involved other guerrilla groups and right-wing paramilitaries. It is the longest-running armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere.

“It isn’t common for a country to refer itself to the council, but it’s exactly the kind of role the United Nations should be playing,” said British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.

“I hope today will mark the start of the final stage of peace talks.”

US Ambassador Samantha Power warned that issues between the two sides still needed to be resolved, such as the removal of land mines and the re-integration of guerrillas into the population.

The UN resolution asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to make detailed recommendations on the mission’s size and operation to be approved by the security council within 30 days of a ceasefire.

Last week, the Colombian government’s lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, described the request to the UN as a “transcendental” moment.

He said it was an “unequivocal demonstration of our desire to end confrontation”.

Since official peace talks started in Havana in November 2012, negotiators have reached agreement on key issues such as the political participation of the rebels, land rights, drug trafficking and transitional justice.

Last September, President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc chief Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko, said they wanted an agreement within six months.

In the meantime, Busan-based shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) is in line to receive an emergency financial boost of USD 109 million from its creditors, led by Korea Development Bank, according to the Korea Economic Daily.

The restructuring shipyard has agreed that it will hand over some of its assets, which include the building and land of the East Seoul Terminal and the inland area of the Incheon North Port, as collateral in return for the financial aid.

The announcement comes on the back of HHIC’s recent statement that it was experiencing liquidity shortage and has requested a voluntary agreement for a debt rescheduling scheme.

Driven by sluggish industry conditions as well as the company’s losses due to an investment in the Philippines-based Subic Shipyard, HHIC has been posting losses for six years and the company’s debt now stands at USD 1.32 billion.

The approved financial aid will help Hanjin to postpone its debt payment and secure financial backing to remain afloat.

BBC with additional report from World Maritime News 

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