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Open debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

(New York, June 25, 2009)

Statement by Ambassador Claudia Blum, Permanent Representative of Colombia 



Mr. President,

Allow me to congratulate you for your work as President of the Security Council during this month, and to express our recognition for convening this debate. We also thank the Under-Secretary General, Mr. John Holmes, for his presentation.

Colombia has taken note with attention of the seventh report on Protection of Civilians . Several of the challenges identified therein deserve priority attention of States and other relevant actors. I stress, in this regard, the challenges concerning respect for International Humanitarian Law, strengthening the capacities of peacekeeping operations and other missions, guaranteeing access of humanitarian assistance in compliance with international normative and accountability.

Other matters in the report, such as those related to the changing nature of conflicts; the proliferation, fragmentation, identity and motivation of non-state armed groups; and dialogues with those actors, deserve further consideration, in order to ensure that their scope is in line with the provisions of the UN Charter and applicable international law.

Mr. President,

All States and relevant actors must give central priority to the protection of civilians, as well as to the strict observance of international humanitarian law and other international norms in this field.

The Government of Colombia has prioritized, through the democratic security policy, the strategic objective of strengthening and guaranteeing the Rule of Law throughout the national territory. The consolidation of this policy has permitted us to create solid conditions for more strongly protecting the Colombian people and the enjoyment of their rights.

These actions go hand in hand with a comprehensive policy on human rights and international humanitarian law, aimed at preventing and ensuring proper punishments in case of violations, including those involving members of the public forces of the State.

The strengthening of democratic authority and territorial control by the State, is reflected in a continued reduction of all acts of violence and criminality.

Since 2002, 51,407 members of illegal armed groups have been demobilized. This process, implemented in the framework of special legislation, has allowed for the application of principles of justice, truth and reparations to victims.

The fight against drug trafficking, which is the financial source of violence and terror, is also a national priority. The UN report issued a few days ago, showed a dramatic reduction of illicit cultivation and drug production in the country in 2008. These results will have positive implications reflected in better security for Colombians. The commitment of the international community against drugs and terrorism is essential to consolidate these achievements.

Mr. President,

We support the call made by the Secretary-General in the report, to urge States that are not Parties to the Convention against Antipersonnel Mines to ratify it without delay. Colombia will host the Second Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention, between November 30 and December 4 this year in Cartagena. We expect that on that occasion it will be possible to assess progress in implementing the Convention and to define a plan of action to address persistent challenges in the eradication of antipersonnel mines in the world.

We also agree with the Secretary-General on the urgency of implementing controls to eradicate the illicit trade of small arms, an essential prerequisite for the better protection of civilians. My country will continue to promote this issue in the General Assembly, and would expect the Security Council to emphasize the importance of adopting effective measures in this field.

Regarding humanitarian assistance, Colombia also condemns attacks against humanitarian personnel. Additionally, we emphasize the responsibility and the primary role of States in the provision and coordination of humanitarian assistance within their territories. We also recognize the importance of international cooperation and facilitation of access by humanitarian entities to affected population in accordance with international norms.

In Colombia, the government is the main provider of humanitarian assistance. This year, the Under-Secretary-General John Holmes visited our country and verified progress and the budgetary and programmatic efforts of state agencies working in this field. We have taken note of the challenges identified with his Office to improve the respective programs.

I should note that progress in security in Colombia has also been reflected in improved access and enhanced safety for humanitarian staff to fulfill their tasks throughout the country, including international institutions that provide valuable cooperation. The State will continue to prevent and control any situation that could hinder the provision of humanitarian assistance.

We note, moreover, that the report emphasizes the importance of durable solutions for refugees. It is essential that States fully comply with their international obligations to protect refugees, including the obligations under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and other relevant instruments. Colombia, has complied with its commitments under this Convention, and has supported the work of institutions working in this field, such as UNHCR.

Mr. President,

Colombia reiterates its support for the efforts to provide protection of civilians and ensure their rights, in conformity with the United Nations Charter and international law. My delegation will maintain an active engagement in the discussions on this subject in the different bodies and institutions of the United Nations.

I thank you, Mr. President.


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