Thank you very much Mr President, Minister,
On behalf of the United Kingdom, I warmly welcome the unanimous adoption of resolution 2307 today and I congratulate the Government of Colombia on the historic peace agreement reached with the FARC last month.
‘Historic’ is a word that is sometimes overused in this chamber. And yet today, it could not be more fitting. Through this resolution, we have marked history; an agreement that brings to an end over half a century of fighting; an agreement that has taken almost four years to negotiate.
And it is a process that is already bringing the dividends of peace – just this weekend we saw more children released into a new life, one without guns, one without fear.
Both parties have shown great bravery and leadership to give those children, and every other Colombians, genuine hope for the future. It takes courage to lay aside weapons and accept the protection of a former enemy. It took a bold step - perhaps an unprecedented step - for a government to put their country on this Council’s agenda. And in turn, this Council showed great sensitivity and great flexibility to respond quickly to Colombia’s request.
As the penholder on this issue, I am proud of the role that the UK has played, both here and in Colombia, in support of the peace agreement. And I pay tribute in particular to Cuba and Norway, as well as Chile and Venezuela, for their sustained support throughout the process.
But this resolution, Mr President, is not just about tributes. It is also about providing our own support to make sure that this historic agreement turns into a historic peace.
Through this resolution we have finalised the mandate of the UN mission; we have authorised 450 UN observers to be there on the ground, verifying the return of peace after over 50 years of conflict. We have authorised the UN mission to contribute, together with the Government of Colombia, towards the camps for the FARC. And we have committed to doing all this in a way that maximises the number of women in the mission.
This resolution is just one more milestone in Colombia’s long journey towards peace. Outside this chamber, generations of ordinary Colombians have lived their lives knowing nothing but war. And they now stand on the brink of peace. Next month, the people of Colombia will have a momentous opportunity to choose between a lasting peace or a return to years of conflict and suffering. The choice is in their hands.