Mr. President,

I welcome the participation of the Foreign Minister of Colombia, H.E. Mr Alvaro Leyva, in this meeting. I also thank the Special Envoy, Mr Carlos Ruiz Massieu, and the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, Ms Doris Ćurić Hrvatinić, for their remarks. My thanks also go to Mr Rodrigo Botero García for his statement.

Only two months ago, this Council unanimously adopted a resolution expanding the mandate of the Verification Mission to the monitoring and verification of the ceasefire with the ELN. Since then, the peace negotiations have made significant progress. We welcome the dialogue with all parties and underline the efforts of the Colombian government through its "Paz Total" policy. With regard to dealing with the past, the progress made by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace is noteworthy, even though it remains essential to ensure the implementation of the upcoming first reparation sentences.

Given that the protection and participation of the entire population are key elements of the peace process, I would like to highlight the following points:

First, the announcement of the suspension of all offensive operations between the Colombian government and the self-proclaimed FARC-EP EMC is a first step towards the opening of formal peace negotiations and the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement. Switzerland supports this development as part of its ongoing commitment to the Colombian peace process.

Second, the Colombian government must ensure the safety and protection of ex-combatants from acts of violence. The judicial authorities must also combat impunity. We refer to the recent report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which highlights the need for greater attention to the implementation of guarantees of non-recurrence. Conflict-related violence continues to affect civilians in many parts of the country, despite the Government's efforts to dismantle illegal armed groups and criminal organisations. In view of the upcoming elections, Switzerland reiterates its call on the Colombian authorities to strengthen prevention and security measures in order to mitigate the effects of this violence. We also reiterate that all parties must respect international humanitarian law.

Third, the role of women in peace-building, through their knowledge, experience and leadership, offers a potential that must be strengthened. The women, peace and security agenda is a cross-cutting theme of our support to the Colombian peace process, in particular with regard to ceasefires, civil society participation and dealing with the past.

We congratulate the Government of Colombia for developing its first national action plan on Women, Peace and Security. The broad participatory process organised at national, regional and thematic levels, with the support of the international community, will set an exemplary standard for its future implementation. We were honoured to co-host with the Government of Colombia an event on women's participation and its national action plan, which took place just before this session. The remarks made by H.E. Minister Leyva, Special Envoy Ruiz Massieu and the two representatives of civil society who shared their practical experiences and recommendations once again highlighted this indisputable fact: "Sin las mujeres no hay paz".

Mr. President,

The support of this Council and of the international community remains essential to achieve a lasting peace. We welcome the close cooperation with the Government of Colombia in this regard. We also thank the Peacebuilding Commission for its recommendations and look forward to Colombia's continued cooperation and sharing of experiences in this framework.

I thank you.

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