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National Statement delivered by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Colombia

Thank you very much indeed Mr President,

I want to start by warmly welcoming Minister Blum to the Security Council this afternoon and also by thanking the Special Representative for his really comprehensive brief and, more importantly, for all the ongoing commendable work of the Verification Mission.
Mr President,
In November, we marked four years, the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Final Peace Agreement.  The journey to peace has not been easy, nor without sacrifice, and we know that much remains to do.  But I want to say now, that the dividends of this work are being felt by more and more Colombians every single day, and we salute all who work for that.
Let me reiterate Ireland’s well-known support for the peace process in Colombia. We welcome the continued commitment of the parties to the full implementation of the agreement.  As in all of our countries, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought enormous challenges. But notwithstanding those challenges, we recognize that significant progress continues to be made in implementing the Agreement. The purchase of land for housing and productive projects for former combatants, ongoing progress on truth, justice, and victim reparation are just two examples of that determination that we see.
Mr President,
We also share the serious concern expressed by the Special Representative about ongoing violence.  The protection and security of former combatants, of those living in conflict-affected communities, as well as social leaders and human rights defenders, is simply essential. We believe that the perpetrators of such violence must be brought to justice.  Sustainable peace cannot be delivered if peacebuilders live in fear, suffer harm, or worse lose their lives.
We are deeply concerned about reports of continued forced recruitment of children, as well as threats against youth leaders by illegal armed groups and by terrorist organisations.  The activity of those illegal groups poses an ongoing challenge to building peace.  We encourage the rapid adoption and the implementation of a comprehensive public policy to dismantle criminal organisations and their support networks. Effective strategies for continued reincorporation, for land redistribution and providing alternative means of economic activity, including effective crop substitution, are all vital in stabilising areas that are still experiencing violence.
Mr President,
We also support all of the Secretary General’s recommendations in the latest report, including those aimed at improving security and consolidating the progress towards peace. We hope and trust that these will bear fruit. 
I want to highlight two areas of particular interest today, based on Ireland’s own experience of conflict and peace building on our island.
First - transitional justice.  An innovative approach to transitional justice is at the very heart of the Colombian peace process.  Truth, justice, and reconciliation efforts have been the bedrock of the transformation that has been achieved to date.  Ireland welcomes the progress achieved by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (the SJP), the Truth Commission and for the families of forcibly disappeared persons.  We welcome the request by the President of Colombia for an expansion of the mandate of the UN Verification Mission.  The verification of compliance with sentences issued by the SJP would help to further build trust in the process, at a critical juncture, for all parties.
The second issue I wanted to raise is - Women, Peace and Security .  The Colombian peace agreement quite simply serves as an exemplary model for gender inclusive and responsive peace building.  Ireland applauds the progress reported by the National Reintegration Council’s Working Group on Gender and the Government’s High Level Forum on Gender. This work is embedding women’s full participation in the political process. We want to see this continue because we are ambitious for Colombian women. We also want to see full implementation of all the provisions, including on ethnicity and gender. That remains an important priority.  We urge the allocation of sufficient resources - technical and financial - to allow completion of this vital work.  We are particularly concerned about the gendered nature of violence perpetrated against women and girls, including social leaders and human rights defenders, former combatants – the incidence of all of this has increased in recent months, worryingly.  Both in our national capacity, and through our broader work here on the Security Council on WPS, Ireland will continue to work with all in Colombia to empower, and to protect, women and girls.
Mr President,
In conclusion, the peace process in Colombia rightly stands out as an example, globally, of successful peace building. It serves as an example for others affected by conflict.  But we in Ireland know that peace can be fragile, and that building peace takes time, courage, forbearance and - always – just a little faith. You know, Minister, that you can count on Ireland as a faithful friend on this journey; as a member of this Council, we will work with you, and also with our European Union partners, including the European Union Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia, Irishman, Eamon Gilmore. 
As we start a new, and hopefully brighter, year, we encourage all to redouble their efforts to ensure the full, comprehensive and inclusive implementation of the Final Peace Agreement.
Thank you Mr President.

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