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General Debate of the Humanitarian Segment.

(New York, July 17, 2002)

Statement by Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, Permanent Representative of Colombia


Mr. Chairman,

In the first place, I would like to express the appreciation of my delegation to the Secretary-General for the effort to prepare the report on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. I would also like to express our satisfaction that this year the humanitarian segment will reach a consensus on a text that will help to improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance in natural disasters and complex emergency situations.

It is our belief that issues related to humanitarian assistance should be addressed with an integral perspective. Such assistance should be provided as part of a process to accomplish the reconstruction of social structures on affected populations. And it should contribute to the development of economic measures that guarantee sustainability after the crisis.

The framework provided by Resolution 46/182 is fundamental to reach that purpose. Besides offering the guiding principles that direct the provision of humanitarian assistance, it also sets in place the structure for a coordinated response. Colombia considers that all humanitarian assistance activities must be provided on the basis of the principles contained therein. Especially those of humanity, neutrality and impartiality and with due respect to the primary role that the affected State has in the initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance.

We are also pleased that both the Secretary-General's report and the Resolution that will be adopted during this segment, emphasizes the transition from relief to development and the subsequent need of an active involvement of the affected communities in such process. As it is stated in the report, the transition from relief to development is more than an economic process and it is important to ensure that the earliest assistance efforts provide the seeds of future recovery.

The provision and coordination of humanitarian assistance should necessarily include community participation, local structure improvement, and the strengthening of national institutions, if we wish to guarantee the adequate, efficient and effective delivery of the response to affected communities.

To this end, coordination is essential and appropriate measures should be taken to ensure its presence within all the levels of the humanitarian assistance process. Especially when there are so many actors involved, as it is the case of the United Nations system, in which agencies operate with different agendas and mandates, duplicating efforts in some areas and creating a vacuum in others. In this context, the Consolidated Appeals Process constitutes a significant improvement in the coordination, strategic planning and advocacy tool for the promotion of humanitarian assistance.

Mr. Chairman,

Colombia continues to live up to its commitments regarding human rights and its adherence to international humanitarian law, and it has emphasized the importance that all parties to armed conflict respect their obligations under these provisions, especially those relevant to the protection of civilians. In particular, special attention should be provided to the situation of the vulnerable in affected populations, such as women and children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

Women, who are often treated as a vulnerable group, can also constitute a powerful factor for positive change. For instance, their involvement in peace processes and rebuilding after conflicts should be encouraged. It is essential to continue integrating mainstreaming the gender perspective in the humanitarian response.

Colombia encourages the effective implementation of the agreements of the two major conferences recently held on children and the elderly, in which their situation was viewed also in the context of natural disasters and complex emergencies. Likewise, Colombia supports the initiative to draw a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Chairman:

My country attaches great importance to the issues of internal displacement, moreover it holds an open and transparent position on the subject. A broad policy of response to and prevention of internal displacement is part of our legislation. Its objective is to promote adherence to and respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and the guiding principles on internal displacement, which have shown their usefulness in this type of situations.

Our public policy is directly coordinated from the President's Office and it is implemented by the Red de Solidaridad Social with the support of national, regional and local institutions. Current programs work on five components: prevention of displacement, humanitarian assistance, socioeconomic development, protection and institutional strengthening.

The Colombian government has appealed to the international community in support of its efforts to provide effective solutions to the problems affecting internally displaced persons. Moreover, it has promoted a coordinated action and exchange of information with international organizations, currently carrying out activities to respond to and prevent internal displacement in the country. Amongst these organizations are the World Food Program, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Program for Development, the World Bank and the International Committee of the Red Cross. My country would like to express its sincere appreciation for all the support provided by the international community and in particular to the above-mentioned organizations.

Mr. Chairman,

To conclude, Colombia wants to add its voice to those who have expressed concern about the alleged sexual abuses, exploitation and misuse of humanitarian assistance by humanitarian personnel in some parts of the world and considers advisable the adoption of appropriate measures in this regard.


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