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Third Committee

(New York, October 20, 2009)

Statement by Ambassador Claudia Blum, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, Item 69 (a): Promotion and Protection of Human Rights


Mr. Chairman,

Colombia is among the States that have ratified the most international human rights treaties, including those arising from the UN system and the Inter-American system. Our State is up to date in the submission of reports and pays special attention to following up the recommendations of the various treaty bodies.

Last April, our first report to the Committee for the Protection of Migrant Workers was presented. The significant recommendations from the Committee will receive due consideration.

Our Constitution contains a solid framework of fundamental rights, with effective protection mechanisms, which have led to important advances in jurisprudence in the country. The treaties that recognize human rights, ratified by Colombia, have a higher status in the national legal system and integrate the so-called Block of Constitutionality. This means that lower-level rules of domestic law must be adjusted and cannot be contrary to the provisions of these instruments.

As a recent development, I would like to share with you the approval by the Congress, of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In July 2009, President Álvaro Uribe signed into Law the respective approval. This Law is currently under review in the Constitutional Court, a procedure to be finalized before the treaty's ratification by the Government.

Mr. Chairman,

In this session of the General Assembly, Colombia intends to present a draft resolution under the item Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, aimed at proclaiming the United Nations Decade for the People of African Descent. The initiative has been co-sponsored so far by Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Panama and Uruguay, and hopefully will have the general support of the other Member States.

The proposal aims at promoting the national and international agenda of policies and actions to be implemented in order to strengthen the realization and enjoyment of the rights of people of African descent, in those countries where they still face challenges and difficulties in terms of welfare, social integration and development. Also, it intends to encourage the recognition of the historical contributions by people of African descent to the development process of societies in different regions of the world. As well as strengthening their participation in decision-making processes, at the national level, as well as at the regional and global levels.

While there are countries that have successfully consolidated conditions for the exercise of rights by people of African descent, in other contexts these communities have not fully benefited from state policies promoting human rights, to the same extent as the rest of the population.

The draft resolution, on the other hand, is in line with the purpose of the United Nations, of promoting cooperation on human rights. In this sense, international cooperation regarding relevant national actions should ensure that, in all contexts, people of African descent benefit from the implementation of obligations under human rights instruments.

The project is also in line with the belief that the outcomes of the various summits, conferences and declarations of the United Nations should be implemented in a comprehensive manner to benefit all people, including those of African descent.

Among the commitments and declarations adopted at these summits and conferences we would highlight those concerning human rights issues, social development, sustainable development, population and development, child protection, elimination of discrimination against women, elimination of racism and all forms discrimination, as well as the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. All of them include targets and strategies that must also be applied through affirmative initiatives that benefit the people of African descend in their different countries.

We have considered appropriate to propose the proclamation of a Decade, and not another commemorative approach with lesser scope. The purpose is to promote appropriate continuity in national actions and international cooperation to ensure the progressive and sustained realization of the rights and welfare of people of African descent.

Likewise, a comprehensive approach will be proposed, as to the actors who should participate in the Decade. States, UN entities and social actors, including organizations of people of African descent, are, all of them, potential contributors to the Decade's goals. In the definition of concrete actions, special attention should be also given to the recommendations made on various occasions by the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, whose mandate was extended by the Human Rights Council.

The initiative is of great importance for a country like Colombia, where 10.3% of the population recognize themselves as Afro-Colombians. Since the adoption of the Constitution of 1991 the process of recognition, promotion and protection of the rights of these communities has been strengthened, differentiated legislation and jurisprudence have been adopted, and State policies related to these purposes have been implemented. However, we are aware of the challenges, setbacks and difficulties facing these communities, which must be overcome in order to enhance their participation as decisive actors and beneficiaries of development, as well as for the full realization of their rights.

As in other fields, we consider essential for the United Nations to promote actions in the field of cooperation to support national efforts to benefit people of African descent in those countries where it is required. My delegation hopes that Member States will take into consideration the constructive spirit and the solidarity that inspires this initiative. The support of Member States will allow for the promotion of a positive agenda for the realization of human rights of millions of people of African descent in different regions of the world.

Thank you.


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