I welcome the participation of Colombia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Alvaro Leyva, at this meeting, and also thank the Special Envoy, Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, for his briefing. My thanks also go Ms. Salcedo López.
Switzerland has a long-standing commitment in Colombia and provides ongoing support for the peace process, particularly in the field of dealing with the past.
I would like to highlight examples of recent important progress:
- Switzerland welcomes the allocation of specific resources and the commitments stipulated in the National Development Plan to accelerate the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement. Recent progress on peace-related legislation is commendable, and all parties concerned must prioritize its full implementation.
- We welcome the progress made by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace as well as the steps taken by the Government to implement restorative sanctions.
- The inter-institutional coordination mechanism set up to search for missing persons has also already produced tangible results.
- And, finally, at Colombia's request, the Swiss Federal Council has approved an agreement to safeguard a digital copy of the archives of the Truth Commission in Switzerland. We look forward to our President visiting your country and sign this agreement.
I would also like to highlight the following points:
First, Switzerland remains concerned that conflict-related violence continues to affect the civilian population, and calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law. Clashes between armed groups continue to spread throughout the country, particularly in the regions prioritized for implementation of the Final Peace Agreement. Security guarantees for members of political parties, social leaders, human rights activists and former combatants must remain a priority for the Colombian state. Especially, as the October departmental and municipal elections approach, we call on the Colombian authorities to implement adequate preventive measures to ensure free, safe and participatory elections.
Second, Switzerland is committed, through its cooperation program in Colombia, to highlighting and mitigating the impact of armed conflict on children. Given the increase in child recruitment, we encourage the Colombian Government to intensify its efforts to prevent and put an end to serious violations of children's rights, and to pave the way for their effective reintegration. In this regard, I would like to quote the recommendation of young Violeta, who courageously addressed this Council las week during the recent open debate on children and armed conflict to call for: "Reconocer a la niñez y juventudes vinculadas a grupos armados como víctimas del conflicto, pero también como agentes de cambio y construcción de paz".
Thirdly, we welcome the holistic approach adopted by the Colombian government to prioritize the pursuit of dialogue with all major actors and armed groups. The recent signing of a temporary bilateral ceasefire agreement with the ELN, set to take effect on August 3, bears witness to its success. We also welcome the announcement of the resumption of peace negotiations with the FARC-EMC, which constitutes a first step towards the implementation of a ceasefire. In order to ensure full compliance by all parties with the stipulated protocols, Switzerland reiterates its full support for extending the mandate of the Verification Mission to include ceasefire monitoring and verification.
This Council must continue to respond promptly to Colombia's call to verify and ultimately consolidate the ceasefire agreements, which have the potential to be mutually reinforcing. Switzerland stands ready to support all these efforts.
I thank you.