Mr. President,

Switzerland thanks China for organizing this debate and the speakers for their contributions.

The impact of COVID-19 on the African continent at the social, economic and political levels is profound, as the African Union (AU), through its Commission and Peace and Security Council, have communicated since the beginning of the pandemic. Today's interventions attest to this. Less than 2% of the vaccine doses distributed worldwide have been administered in Africa, and hundreds of millions of people on the continent are at risk of being left behind. The African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is playing a major role in the fight against the pandemic and the delivery of vaccines on the continent. We must ensure distribution in a spirit of solidarity. To date, Switzerland has committed over CHF 600 million to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in health and other sectors. At the same time, we have supported the CDC's Rumor Tracking System, which combats the spread of false information about the pandemic.

This pandemic, like climate change, exacerbates existing conflicts and requires the full attention of the Security Council. Three measures are important to better respond to these challenges:

First, an effective fight against the pandemic requires the cessation of hostilities and the prevention of new conflicts. Switzerland supports various efforts in Africa and elsewhere, including to prevent violent extremism. Through the AU, we have supported the training of female mediators. Switzerland calls on the Council to redouble its efforts in favour of ceasefire agreements in accordance with resolution 2532 (2020), in order to establish negotiating spaces and favourable conditions for post-pandemic reconstruction.

Second, peace, development and human rights are mutually reinforcing within the context of a long-term response, which addresses the root causes of conflict. The Peacebuilding Commission is ideally placed to promote coherence among the three pillars of the UN system and partnerships with multilateral and regional actors, in support of member states' priorities and in line with the AU's Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063. We welcome the exchange between the Presidency of the Council and the Commission ahead of this Open Debate. We encourage the Council to take full account of the Commission's expertise in its work.

Third, the entire population must be included to build back better and sustainably. We must rebuild trust between the people and state institutions. Women and youth are among the most affected by the consequences of this pandemic, and at the same time key agents of transformation. Even before the pandemic, Switzerland contributed to the creation of employment opportunities and the development of professional training for young people in the Great Lakes region. The Security Council must take into account the key contribution of women and youth to peace and sustainable development, and provide them with increased support, for example through UN regional mandates such as the Offices for West Africa and the Sahel and Central Africa. It must also take into account the contributions of civil society and human rights defenders in post-pandemic reconstruction and sustaining peace efforts.

Mr. President,

We call on the Security Council to ensure the full implementation of resolutions 2532 (2020) and 2565 (2021) across all country-specific situations on its agenda. Switzerland will remain a reliable partner in the joint efforts for conflict prevention and post-pandemic reconstruction in Africa.

Thank you.