I welcome the participation of the Vice President of Colombia, H.E. Ms. Francia Márquez Mina to this meeting. Your presence reflects Colombia's commitment to build lasting peace and demonstrates the valued cooperation with the Security Council.
It is with great concern that we learned of the attempted attack on the Vice-President yesterday. We express our sympathy to her and strongly condemn all act of violence.
Allow me to thank the Special Representative, Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, for his briefing. I also wish to thank Mr. Valbuena for his informative statement.
Switzerland's longstanding commitment in Colombia aims to contribute to the full implementation of the Peace Agreement. In particular, Switzerland has accompanied the political participation component of the Agreement. Switzerland also gave its support to the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition together with the people of Colombia, who spared no effort in support of the direct and indirect victims of this armed conflict. Our contribution has promoted a holistic approach centered on the needs of victims and based on the respect of international law. As a member of this Council, my country looks forward to continuing its support to building sustainable peace.
I would like to highlight three points in this regard:
First, Switzerland welcomes the important efforts of the Colombian government to advance the full and effective implementation of the Peace Agreement. The resumption of negotiations with the ELN and the continuation of dialogue with other armed groups, including with a view to obtaining ceasefires, are highly encouraging. The good communication between the Colombian authorities and the COMUNES party also demonstrates a serious and clear commitment to peace. We welcome the work of the UN Verification Mission and its ability to adapt in support to Colombia on its path to peace.
Second, Switzerland welcomes the unanimous adoption by the Council of the resolution 2673 on the extension of the mandate of the Verification Mission to monitor the implementation of the rural reform and the ethnic chapters of the Peace Agreement. These chapters are essential: achieving the defined objectives will allow addressing the root causes of the armed conflict as well as historical inequalities. While recent efforts by the Colombian government to combat criminal activity are commendable, we remain concerned about the level of violence faced by member of political parties, social leaders, human rights defenders, former combatants, and indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. As the Secretary-General's report points out, violence against women threatens their crucial leadership in the peace process. Ensuring the proper functioning of the National Commission on Security Guarantees is vital for their protection and must be a priority. Indigenous children are disproportionately affected by grave acts of violence. In this regard, my country welcomes the recent adoption of the Safe Schools Declaration as a necessary step towards the implementation of preventive measures to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable.
Third, in line with its commitment to peace and sustainable social development in Colombia, Switzerland responded positively to the request by the parties to the conflict and will support the ongoing peace negotiations with the ELN. It is a great responsibility for us to have been chosen once again as one of the accompanying states for these negotiations. We thus particularly welcome the strong representation of women in this process.
Colombia has successfully adopted a victim-centered approach to heal the wounds caused by decades of violence. Its experience can serve as an example for other countries affected by conflict. Colombia's continued engagement in the Peacebuilding Commission is a testament to this potential.
Allow me to conclude with the words of Father Francisco de Roux, former president of the Truth Commission [and I quote]: "No podemos postergar más el dia en que la paz sea un deber y un derecho de obligatorio cumplimiento. Colombia conoció lo que significa la paz y no va a renunciar a ello".
Switzerland encourages the international community, and this Council, to intensify its efforts to support Colombia in achieving lasting peace. We stand ready to promote and accompany all efforts for dialogue.
I thank you.