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General Debate of the Humanitarian Segment of ECOSOC.

(New York, July 14, 2004)

Statement by Ambassador Nicolás Rivas, Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia


We thank the Secretary General for the report on the "Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations" (A/59/93-E/2004/74, June 11, 2004), and Mr. Jan Egeland, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, for his presentation of this report.

Colombia subscribes to the statement of the representative of Qatar, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and wishes to address certain additional aspects.

Colombia considers that the humanitarian work of the United Nations system and its partners, finds an effective answer through a strict following of international humanitarian law, in particular, the Geneva Conventions, and its additional protocols, as well as what was put forth by resolution 46/182 of the General Assembly, which gave the mandate to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations.

The principles of neutrality, humanity, and impartiality must rule humanitarian actions. Humanitarian assistance must not be politicized nor rushed into exploring options that might weaken States, and aggravate even further a population's vulnerable situation. Humanitarian action must be offered under the request of the recipient State, with its consent and respecting international law and national law. Humanitarian assistance must, not only appear neutral and impartial, but be so in reality.

Mr. President,

Regarding my country, President Uribe's policy of Democratic Security has demonstrated that through the strengthening of the rule of law and of democratic institutions, the levels of security among the population have increased, and it is possible to find solutions to the challenges in the humanitarian field. A concrete result can be observed with the internal displacement in Colombia, which has decreased by 48% throughout this past year. However, in the Secretary General's report this particular accomplishement has not been recognized, even though it is such an important issue. Indeed, paragraph 8 indicates that in my country, as in others, "great masses of the population were mobilized", without making reference to the progresses achieved throughout the last year and a half regarding the decrease of internal displacement in Colombia.

We are aware that there is still much more we need to accomplish, and it is because of this that our Government continues to be committed in the fight against internal displacement and integral attention to displaced persons. To achieve the latter, it counts with the support and solidarity of all Colombians, as well as with the important cooperation and assistance provided by the United Nations, the International Red Cross, the donor countries and non governmental organizations.

In this context, it is important to note that the Colombian Government applies the guiding principles regarding internal displacements, such as guaranteeing the willingness, security and dignity of the returning displaced population. For the Government, the escorting, the facilitating or the promotion of forced returns, is unthinkable. The returns take place in virtue of a protocol that defines with precision each of the stages in the process, its components, the actors involved, the required aid, and the follow up to the situation that must take place after the return. Regarding the latter, the Social Solidarity Network (Red de Solidaridad Social), guiding entity of the Colombian State on this issue, develops follow-up mechanisms that facilitate the monitoring of the returned population's situation, the compliance of the acquired compromises by different entities, and the alerts of situations that put at risk the security of these people. The latter is all done to assure the sustainability of the return processes.

Mr. President,

Our country recognizes the humanitarian work of the UN system and its associates as support to the efforts of affected states, and considers that strict compliance with International Humanitarian Law contributes to the bettering of the vulnerable population. Capacity-building is important, just as the respect for the national procedures that have proven to be efficient in all kinds of humanitarian crisis.

Just as in other opportunities, we call that the advancement of the UN system humanitarian actions and its associates, be in conformity with the guiding international law dispositions of the matter. The rigorous and transparent aplication of these guiding principles of humanitarian action reinforces the capacity, of the countries as well as the UN, in its common objective of providing humanitarian assistance ina a timely and efficient way to the affected populations.

Thank you Mr. President.


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