Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
(New York, June 28, 2006)
Statement by Ambassador Nicolas Rivas, Director of Multilateral Political Affairs
We thank you for calling this debate and we congratulate you for the way in which you have led the work of the Council this month. Likewise, we would like to thank Mr. Jan Egeland for his presentation. On this matter, I would like to refer only to the reference by Mr. Egeland about Colombia. We thank Mr. Egeland and the system for their continuous concern with our country and its people.
The Government of Colombia is clearly aware of the complex situation of the Colombian people. The displacement situation is the product of illegal armed groups together with the illicit drug problem. Colombia has a firm commitment to face these realities which result in violence and lead to uncertainty among the national population. The Government works tirelessly to find comprehensive solutions, as well as temporary ones needed by the affected population.
For the National Government, the Colombian population cannot be divided into groups and categories, just as it is not divided under international humanitarian law. Based on this concept we create programs that benefit the entirety of the affected population. In this context, we would like to reiterate that the valuable work being done by the International Committee of the Red Cross must be the norm and not the exception when it comes to humanitarian assistance and humanitarian work.
In recent years, Colombia has invested significant resources to bring solutions to its affected population. Likewise, we work with the international community and with the United Nations system, which has a wide presence in our country. We believe the most important thing is for the United Nations to work with the Government and not parallel to it, as its work must complement the national efforts aimed at putting an end to the situation of the Colombian people affected by violence.
Furthermore, the government faces the tremendous challenge of reinserting more than 40,000 people demobilized from illegal armed groups who need opportunities to start a new life. We have rehabilitation and reintegration programs for underage former combatants. We have received the cooperation of various governments, as well as of the Organization of American States.
We are clear about the reality of our situation and the challenges we face. We work everyday to find lasting solutions that will alleviate the situation of the Colombian people affected by violence. We would also like to reiterate our willingness to work through cooperation and complementarity with the United Nations system and with the international community as we have in recent years.