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International affairs, peace
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  • UN Commission on Human Rights
    - 2005
    - 2004
    - 2003
    - 2002

    61st session of the
    UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR)

    12 March - 22 April 2005


    Joint oral intervention by Franciscans International, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches

    A global peace strategy for overcoming the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Colombia

    Mr Chairperson,

    I speak on behalf of Franciscans International, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and theWorld Council of Churches. And as a member of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartadó, I am also here today to represent the Ecumenical Coalition of Colombia, as well as the people of Colombia. We declare our profound indignation concerning the systematic persecution of communities that cry out for neutrality from the armed groups, especially the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó where, on February 21, 2005, 8 people were assassinated, including four children and one of our principle leaders. The evidence suggests the responsibility of the 17th Brigade of the Colombian Army.

    The ongoing conflict in Colombia has produced one of the world’s worst internal displacement crises, with over three million people internally displaced, and with Afro-Colombians and indigenous people disproportionately affected.

    For the construction of a Global Peace Strategy in Colombia there needs to be an effective dismantling of paramilitary structures. In Colombia an “expansion and consolidation… including social and institutional insertion” of paramilitarism is taking place.1 This reflects a dismantling of the rule of law in Colombia and the introduction of a social and political model established on fear. The security policy of the Colombian Government indicates “uncertainty in the fight against paramilitary groups and, in particular, against its structures, including the connections between members of the public forces and other public servants and these groups.”2 Together with the type of negotiations taking place3 which seem likely to perpetuate impunity for thousands of crimes committed over decades, this could open a new period of conflict in Colombia.

    The role of the international community must not be such as to exacerbate the conflict or to promote a militaristic solution. In that regard, we are worried by the growing US participation in the armed conflict, reflected in the presence of soldiers and private military contractors. Currently, Colombia is the second largest recipient of military support from the United States.4

    In the social and economic field, there has been no decrease in the gap between rich and poor, no progress in overcoming extreme poverty, and no advance in the promotion of literacy and employment and increasing access to health and housing.5 On the contrary, during this Government’s term, there has been an acceleration of the privatization of basic public services, the closure of many domestic businesses, and the entry into Colombia, with almost no conditions, of large multinational companies. One percent of the population possesses 55% of the cultivatable land. This concentration of land in the hands of a few has been furthered through military strategies for the imposition of political loyalty by force. Political and economic interests therefore continue to be a chief cause of the forced displacement taking place in the country.6

    We ask the Commission on Human Rights to:

    1. Declare its concern about the massacre which occurred in San José de Apartadó and ask that the Colombian Government offers an explanation and justice for the crime as well as reparation for the community.
    2. Strengthen the active engagement of the United Nations in relation to the human rights and humanitarian situation in Colombia, especially through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia.
    3. Request that the High Commissioner submit a report to the General Assembly concerning the human rights situation in Colombia.
    4. Ask the Colombian Government to implement fully and consistently the many recommendations made by the High Commissioner and other United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms.
    5. Ask the Colombian Government to present a National Action Plan for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in 2005.

    Thank you Mr Chairman.

    1. See E/CN.4/2005/10 pg. 2. Examples of this phase of paramilitarization are: a)The control of Salvatore Mancuso over the University of Córdoba; b) The infiltration of the highest positions of the attorney general’s regional office in Cúcuta; c) The fraud of approximately US $200,000 from the health system and d) The direct participation in the election of numerous “single candidates” to the positions of mayors and governors on the northern coast and the Eastern part of the country: Córdoba, Magdalena, Cesar y Norte de Santander.
    2. See E/CN.4/2005/10 pa. 3
    3. La Misión de Acompañamiento del Proceso de Paz de la OEA, coordinated by Sergio Caramagna, in its most recent report expressed, “In spite of the committment to a cease fire on the part of the AUC, there continue to be acts of violence and intimidation against the civilian population.” CIDH, “Report on the Demobilization Process in Colombia,” OEA/Ser.L/V/II.120/Doc.60,13 de diciembre de 2004, http://www.cidh.org
    4. See “The Patriot Plan”, CODHES pamphlet, Bogotá – Colombia, 31 de agosto de 2004.
    5. See E/CN.4/2005/10 pg. 3
    6. “..eventhough the number of new displaced peoples during 2004 decreased in comparison with 2003, the total number of displaced persons in the country increased.” Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Colombia to the 61 session of the CHR, 28 February 2005, E/CN.4/2005/10 pg. 2








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