PEACE IN OUR TIME

Colombia 2018 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, on Colombia's peace-building efforts.

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

Solidarity and commitment are in place to support the work of the government and to assure a long transitional peace. The fundamental aim in today's world is to achieve peace. However, nowadays, we are witnessing that peace is no longer guaranteed. 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. Colombia represents a symbolic and fundamental example for the world that peace is possible.
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. My experience with Colombia goes back 10 years to 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 that firmly recognized the rights of and the support to internally displaced people worldwide, despite all the difficulties and internal challenges involved.
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 former President Santos, have always faced the difficult challenges of the county's conflict.
During past visits, when I went to several areas of the country, I saw the duality of the country. On the one hand, a developed Colombia as we see here in Bogotá could be compared to New York, London, or Paris. You see a developed country with a vibrant economy and an active civil society. On the other hand, I recall visiting Chocó, 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.
Moreover, I was deeply impressed with the commitment of the government to underline that 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.
Indeed, the United Nations is strongly supporting the Colombian government in this process of peace building and democracy, bringing development to all corners of the country. It is a huge challenge, but one that has our full support and commitment.

Nevertheless, Colombia is also at the forefront of another huge challenge caused by the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Venezuela. I would like to express all the support to the government and the people of Colombia in their humanitarian effort to welcome all these people. Moreover, 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 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, and climate change efforts.

The UN is strongly committed to peace in Colombia. There are no justifications for armed violence. Peace is the only answer to today's challenges, including poverty and inequality, as well as to our objectives such as development and democracy. We are fully at Colombia's 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.*