Madam President, 

I would like to thank the special envoy, Mr Carlos Ruiz Massieu, for his valuable work and information, and Mrs Yolanda Perea Mosquera for her statement and courage. I also welcome the participation of Colombia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Alvaro Leyva, and his delegation to this meeting, which demonstrates the government's commitment to the policy of Total Peace.

As a long-standing supporter of the Colombian peace process, as guarantor country for the peace negotiations with the self-proclaimed EMC FARC-EP and accompanying country for the negotiations with the ELN, Switzerland welcomes the ongoing efforts to achieve a lasting peace through dialogue. We look forward to giving a strong political signal of support to the peace efforts in Colombia through the upcoming visit of this Council.

In this respect, allow me to highlight the following three points: 

First, a strategic, holistic and inter-institutional approach, in cooperation with local and regional authorities, is essential to the success of the Final Peace Agreement as well as to the total peace policy. To this end, the appointments of Otty Patiño as the new High Commissioner for Peace and of Vera Grabe as head of delegation for the ELN process are to be welcomed. We also note the efforts to accelerate and finance the ethnic and gender provisions of the final peace agreement. With the aim of combatting exclusion and inequality. 

Second, the current talks continue to bear fruit. Switzerland congratulates the parties to the peace negotiations for continuing to negotiate despite the difficulties encountered and welcomes their commitment to improving the protection of civilians. We note that the monitoring and verification of ceasefires have contributed to the de-escalation of bilateral hostilities. In this respect, Switzerland calls on the parties to the current ceasefire agreements, whose respective engagements expire this month, to renew them and to consider integrating multilateral elements to strengthen their effects. We continue to actively support the leading actors behind the peace efforts, in particular the Colombian Episcopal Conference.  

Third, the protection of civilians, guarantees of their participation in the peace process, the reintegration of ex-combatants and the prevention of the recruitment and use of children by armed groups must remain at the center of everyone's concerns. Switzerland contributes to these activities, among others, through the UN Multi-Stakeholder Trust Fund. In addition, we recently renewed our support for Humanicemos Desminado Humanitaro, a civilian demining organization comprised of ex-combatants engaged in reintegration and reparation activities. 

Finally, we look forward to the finalization of Colombia's first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. It is important to ensure that this plan is consistent with the total peace policy and the provisions of the Final Peace Agreement. As Colombian peacebuilder Genith Quitiaquez pointed out at a high-level event we organized on this theme in October: "Por primera vez, el Plan Nacional de Acción da a las mujeres la oportunidad de alzar su voz en la construcción de la paz. Es necesario darle impulso para que llegue a los territorios y donde se produjo el conflicto para mantener la paz." 

Madam President,

Switzerland reaffirms its support for the work of the UN Verification Mission and will continue to advocate the central role of women in the peace process, the unique transitional justice mechanism, reintegration efforts and the government's peace policy in general, as well as the peace process in Colombia.

I thank you.