Colombia

SG's remarks Fifth Anniversary of Colombia's Final Peace Agreement

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**Bogotá, 24 November 2021 **

Dear friend President Iván Duque,

Dear protagonists of the peace process,

Protagonists of the Peace Agreement and protagonists of its implementation.

Together in building a future of peace for Colombia,

Friends and All:

In a world of geopolitical divisions, endless wars, and multiplication of conflicts, Colombia sends a clear message: It is time to invest in peace. It is a great honor for me to join you in commemorating this important milestone on Colombia's road to peacebuilding.

The signing of the Final Peace Agreement---five years ago today---generated hope and inspiration in Colombia and in all international community.

In a world marked by conflicts, many of them without an end in sight, a negotiated peace agreement to end a conflict that many believed to be impossible to resolve is unique and highly valuable.

This anniversary provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Final Peace Agreement, to recognize the challenges it faces, and to renew our collective commitment to fulfil its promise to build a stable and lasting peace.

After more than five decades of conflict, and aware of the suffering it caused, and which we have the opportunity to acknowledge here today, we have a moral obligation to ensure that this peace process is successful.

The Final Peace Agreement was not only intended to silence guns.

It also established a road map to transform the root causes of the conflict and begin to heal the wounds, to prevent atrocities committed by all parties from happening again.

The Agreement, in which women have played an unprecedented role, contains key innovations for peacebuilding.

It is important to note the establishment of a tripartite mechanism that monitored the bilateral and definitive ceasefire.

The creation of a transitional justice system whose objective is to ensure justice for victims and survivors, as well as to ensure a lasting peace.

And the inclusion of broad-based gender provisions that recognize the impact of conflict on women and their fundamental role in peacebuilding.

The Agreement also calls for a differential approach for the country's indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, which make up more than 90 per cent of the people displaced by the conflict.

Dear friends,

In taking stock today, we can confidently affirm that the implementation of the peace process is putting down deep roots.

The fifth anniversary is a testimony to the commitment of the parties, but also of State institutions and of the vibrant Colombian civil society, facing all the difficulties, including the root of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strong support of the United Nations and the international community, which we provide with humility, also made a contribution, but this is a victory for the Colombian people and the Colombian institutions.

Achievements are undeniable.

Colombia must be proud of them.

A guerrilla group taking up arms for half a century, today, turned into a political party, that peacefully presents its arguments in Congress.

The vast majority of former combatants, some thirteen thousand, are admirably striving to build new lives in peace.

When I visited Antioquia yesterday, I witnessed their determination in the face of adversity and uncertainty.

I also witnessed how, with action and the support of the Government, the expansion of locally designed social protection and development programs is paying peace dividends to communities affected by the conflict.

Ensuring the sustainability of these efforts will be crucial in the future.

It encourages me, too, that Colombia is taking steps to face its painful past.

I want to acknowledge the progress made by transitional justice.

We have seen historical accusations of war crimes and unprecedented recognition of responsibility.

We have witnessed moving encounters that bring victims and those responsible together.

And we have seen families finally come out of uncertainty about the fate of their missing loved ones.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace, the Truth Commission and Special Unit for the Search for Persons Deemed as Missing deserve our admiration, solidarity, and our full cooperation. All three entities are indispensable for truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition and with victims always at the centre of the whole process.

We appreciate the confidence placed in the United Nations in continuing to accompany this peacebuilding process, through the Verification Mission, whose mandate has recently been extended by the UN Security Council, and through the complementary efforts of the Country Team.

Dear friends,

Let us also be clear about the risks to peace.

Ethnic communities, women, and girls are particularly affected.

The violence of armed groups in connection with drug trafficking, along with the threats and killings of former combatants, social leaders and human rights defenders, often women and indigenous populations; displacement and confinement; violence against women and sexual violence; recruitment of children: All this undermines peace.

Every death is in itself a tragedy.

Each death sends a devastating message to these communities that still await the promises of the Agreement.

But it is not late to reverse this trend, focusing all efforts, and I would like to pay tribute to the security forces as I could witness yesterday, in their action, concentrating efforts in places where violence is most intense.

I am confident of the President's determination that the security provisions of the Agreement must be fully implemented, as well as all the chapters on rural reform and solution to the problem of illicit drug trafficking and all the complexity that comes from the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

The main long-term solution lies in a comprehensive expansion of the State that brings governance and development opportunities to the entire territory.

The elections held after the signing of the Agreement were the most peaceful and participatory in decades.

I am sure that these conditions will be maintained during the next electoral cycle which includes new opportunities for participation for youth and the regions most affected by the conflict.

Dear friends,

As the Peace Agreement itself recognized, transformations of this magnitude will take time.

There are still ten years left from what was originally planned.

Challenges are part of peace processes.

And to overcome them, it is necessary to keep working with a common purpose.

There are many issues on which one can and must disagree in a democracy, but peace can no longer be one of them.

I am sure that Colombia will remain on this path toward peacebuilding and will persist in overcoming the challenges.

Mr. President and dear friends. I trust in your commitment to the Peace Agreement, and I reaffirm the full support of the United Nations.

Thank you very much.