Statement by UN Secretary General, António Guterres, on peace process implementation

Bogotá. 13 January 2018.

Dear President, thank you very much for your generous remarks about solidarity, and wonderful hospitality, as always in Colombia.

If you allow me, my address will be in “portunol”. Portunol is not a language, because any territory nor people do not claim it, but mostly because it is not grammatically correct. I hope you will therefore forgive the mistakes I am about to make.

My mission is clearly one of solidarity, with Colombia and the Colombian people, at a historic moment of enormous importance for the country, for Latin America and the world.

Solidarity and commitment; commitment with the support to the government and the people of Colombia in their endeavour to build peace. The fundamental aim in today’s world is to achieve peace. However, unfortunately what we are witnessing everywhere is that peace is becoming increasingly harder to guarantee. Today we even face a new nuclear threat that we have not faced since the cold war, and when we look at the Middle East, Africa and so many other parts of the world, we see an increase in new conflicts, while old ones are nowhere near a solution; and precisely for this reason, what is happening in Colombia is of fundamental symbolic importance in the world.

I believe that it is a duty of the citizens of the world to fully support the peace building process in Colombia for the Colombian people.

We are keenly aware that this is a complex process. I consider myself an old friend of Colombia. I worked with your country for ten years when I was United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and I can attest that Colombia was the most generous country in defining a legal institutional framework which firmly recognized the rights and the support to internally displaced people worldwide; with all the practical difficulties involved in its implementation, but with the most advanced institutional and legal framework in the world.

I had the opportunity also to witness the courage with which laws were approved with regard to victims, land restitution, riddled, as they were the difficulties and complexities of the process. For all these reasons, I feel great admiration for the determination with which the Colombian people, as well as President Santos, have always faced the difficult challenges of the county’s conflict.

On the other hand, during my past visits here, when I went to several areas of the country, I saw the duality of the country, a developed Colombia as we see here in Bogota. Being in Bogota could be like being in New York, London or Paris. You see a developed country with a vibrant economy, an active civil society, a country with one of the longest democratic traditions in the world, a country that has seen tremendously successful development processes.

On the other hand, I recall visiting Chocó [Department], where I saw an entirely different Colombia, where the State is nowhere to be seen. Therefore, we must recognize that this is not only a peace -building process. I was deeply impressed with the commitment in the meeting we had. The Government made very clear, this is effort is not only to bring peace, but also to guarantee the presence of the State throughout Colombia, including administration, but also security and social services such as education and health, and support for the development of civil society and the private sector, which are huge challenges. All that does not happen by miracle alone, overnight.

I would like to use this opportunity to underscore the commitment of the United Nations in supporting the Colombian Government in this endeavour or enormous importance, building peace while building an inclusive democracy and bringing development to all corners of the country. It is a huge challenge, but one that has our full support and commitment.

This is also a moment when Colombia is feeling the impact of the presence of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Venezuela. I would like to express all the support of the United Nations to the Government and the people of Colombia in their humanitarian effort to welcome all these people. Moreover, I also wish to express that we are even open to mobilize other types of international help, as much as possible, because the impact naturally is felt in the daily lives Colombians, especially in less developed areas of the country.

I would also like to express the United Nations’ appreciation for the commitment of Colombia, of its Ambassador, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and the Government, for its support to reforms, aimed at making the United Nations an organization increasingly capable to respond to the aspirations and the needs of the people of the world. I must also mention the commitment of Colombia to multilateral peacekeeping processes. However, I would like to mention what I believe is Colombia’s pioneering role with regard to the 20/30 agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the climate change efforts.

Colombia is in the forefront. First, Colombia knows too well, what the impact of climate change around the world is. We risk losing the battle if we do not move forward faster. The commitment and example of Colombia in this regard is of fundamental importance.

I wish to express, that in all aspects, we are committed to peace in Colombia. There are no justifications for armed violence. Peace is the only answer, which can solve today’s problems of poverty, development, inequality and democracy. We are fully committed to peace in Colombia. We are fully at your disposal to support what constitutes the most meaningful experience in the world, demonstrating that fortunately not all the challenges that we face in the world go unanswered. Here we have a solution, a strong solution, and it has all our support.

Source: United Nations