Madam President,

In 2016 – we have heard it – Colombia put an end to decades of conflict by signing one of the world's most innovative peace agreements. The fact that it is now in its eighth year of implementation is the result of the support of the international community and this Security Council, the excellent work of UN actors and above all of the UN Verification Mission, but also and above all - the strong desire for lasting peace and the impressive resilience of the Colombian people.

At the same time, we were able to see that the country, despite the government's political will for "total peace", faces enormous challenges. Time and again, we heard the same demands, which - a lesson for this Council - are representative of most conflict solutions in the world: better land distribution, greater social justice and, above all, greater protection against violence.

To complement the observations and conclusions of my fellow Co-leads, which I can only support, allow me to briefly describe a couple of elements of the mission, which I had the honor of being responsible for:

On February 9, the Council visited Agua Bonita, Caquetá, one of the most emblematic areas of the conflict between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP. It held talks with representatives of the former Territorial Area for Training and Reintegration, and recognized the importance of the reconciliation process for the transition to civilian life. Although community leaders asked for more security guarantees and expressed concern about the scope and pace of the Special Jurisdiction's investigations, their unwavering commitment to peace was impressive. The Council also visited community projects and demonstrated interest in demining activities carried out by Humanicemos DH, the world's first humanitarian demining organization run by former combatants. The visit not only provided a better understanding of the situation in a local community, but above all of the importance of transitional justice in dealing with the past, and the need to link the laying down of arms with socio-economic prospects. 

On its return, the Council met with women's organizations to discuss the "Agenda for Women, Peace and Security" 1325 and Colombia's first National Action Plan. The representatives described the risks they and their children face, and the challenges of protecting human rights on a daily basis. They stressed that there should be no amnesty for sexual violence and that the prohibition of sexual violence and child recruitment should be minimum requirements in the current peace talks. Women's participation in decision-making processes does not appear to be sufficiently guaranteed, despite their undeniable contribution to peacebuilding. As they have stressed, there can be no lasting peace without their effective participation at the negotiating table. 

On February 10, the Board also met with victims' organizations in Buenaventura, a region particularly affected by poverty and violence. These discussions – we have heard it – in the presence of Vice President Francia Marquez, highlighted the importance of accelerating the gender and ethnic provision of the agreement, and its inclusion in dialogues with the ELN and EMC FARC-EP, as well as the urgent need to increase protection against violence. All these organizations stressed the important role of the Security Council and the UN Verification Mission in monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the forthcoming National Action Plan.  

As a representative of Switzerland, and with regard to the ongoing peace talks with the ELN and the EMC FARC-EP, in which my country is involved as an accompanier and guarantor, I would like to emphasize that dialogue is the only way to achieve peace. We have seen important advances in the functioning of ceasefires, and welcome the ongoing strengthening of provisions on the protection of civilians, as well as the monitoring and verification mechanisms. Switzerland therefore encourages the Council to extend the mandate of the Verification Mission to include monitoring and verification of the recently renewed ceasefire between the government and the EMC FARC-EP.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it was important to understand the complexity of this peace, but also that it is possible. Peace must be achieved in the territories, but we also have a great responsibility, as members of the Council, to support all efforts in this direction. And we can only do that if we continue to speak with one voice.

In conclusion, I would like to thank once again my co-leaders, the members of the Council, the UN Verification Mission, SCAD, the peace signatories, the victims' representatives, the women's organizations and all those involved for their contribution to this trip and to the Colombian peace process. And, of course, special thanks to the Government, the Mission here, and the Colombian people for their warm hospitality.

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