Thank you, President. I’d like to start by thanking SRSG Ruiz Massieu, Mr Šimonović, and Mr Londoño for their briefings and welcome Foreign Minister Leyva to our meeting today. I’ll make three points.
First, I’d like to recognise President Petro’s restated commitment to putting comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement at the heart of his Government’s approach to building sustainable peace. We welcome the strengthened peace architecture in Colombia, including the recent mandate extension of the Committee for the Follow-Up, Promotion and Verification of the Implementation of the Final Agreement.
Second, colleagues, violence and weak state presence in many areas of the country continues to have a serious impact on the daily lives of too many Colombians, particularly in rural, afro-Colombian and indigenous communities. It also frustrates implementation of many aspects of the peace agreement including the safety of former combatants.
The Government’s efforts to secure a reduction in violence across the country – including over the course of the upcoming round of talks between the Government and the ELN – are therefore crucial.
In this context, we thank Foreign Minister Leyva for his recent letter inviting the Council to consider an expanded role for the UN Mission, and we look forward to the Secretary-General’s advice on possible outcomes.
Colleagues, it is also clear that much of the ongoing violence is driven by criminality, particularly the drug trade. It is essential that we bear down on those who are profiting from misery and destruction – together. We look forward to working with the Colombian authorities to tackle this shared problem with renewed vigour.
Third, on the issue of rural reform, we welcome progress on the restitution of land to indigenous communities and the Government’s ambition to expand access to land further. We urge further momentum in implementation, including through the agreement and delivery of the National Development Plan and support to former combatants living outside reintegration areas. We commend wider reintegration efforts including to promote greater political participation.
Colombia remains an example to the world of the transformative power of peace. But realising the full benefits of the peace agreement and securing sustainable peace across the country will require continued investment. The UK remains committed to supporting Colombia through that process.