"Open Debate: Women, Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict – Secretary General S/2014/181 13 March, 2014"
(New York, 25 April, 2014)
Statement by H.E. Ambassador María Emma Mejia, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations
Thank you Mr. President,
Mrs. Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict,
Colombia has been through five decades of armed conflict that has affected, in particular, the most vulnerable populations, children and women, mostly in rural areas and in our more remote areas of our geography.
The challenges we face are not minor. Clearly, a country that has lived this long conflict has also undergone the degraded behavior by illegal armed groups with a significant impact in our women and our children.
Therefore, as a representative of my Government, but above all, as a woman and a Colombian citizen, I want to emphasize that what guides us is the firm convincement that not a single victim must be tolerated and that Colombia decidedly bets, Mrs. Bangura, to end the conflict and securing a lasting peace.
It is for this reason that, when reading the Report that is the subject of this Open Debate, organized today by the Presidency of Nigeria, I would have wished that the advances made by Colombia in its public policies and its domestic legislation were recognized as well as the implementation thereof. I would also have been desirable that the Report also reflected the crucial political moment on the road toward reconciliation and peace that has begun President Juan Manuel Santos, after fifty years of confrontations, and which we expect it will lead to signing a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
And this is a principled stand against the issue of sexual violence against women in armed conflict, but also against all victims in general.
First, Colombia issued the Victims and Land Restitution Act in 2011, which incorporates the huge strides such as comprehensive reparations programs for victims in general, and survivors of sexual violence in particular, making visible the problem and assigning the resources for the necessary compensation, 57% of them women.
Second, in 2013 –the year covered by the Report- the Colombian government, through its National Economic and Social Policy Council (CONPES), who directs comprehensively all Colombian state policies at the national and local levels, enacted the "Interagency Strategy to Fight Impunity and Integral Attention to Gender-Based Violence Victims on the context of the armed conflict, including victims of sexual violence" (CONPES # 3784). This CONPES includes the identification of barriers that often impedes the access to justice faced by women as well as measures to take care of women victims of such violence.
Third, Mr. President, in a historical milestone, the Ministry of Defense issued the "Protocol of the Armed Forces for the Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence, Especially in the Armed Conflict", which has been elaborated in close consultations with the civil society and the United Nations in Colombia, training and delivering documentation on the matter to more than 350,000 soldiers and Police officers for its proper implementation.
Fourth, since 2011 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by its Minister Mrs. María Angela Holguín, has implemented initiatives countrywide to prevent the involvement of children in the armed conflict. As Mrs. Bangura may know, the program "Children and Adolescents with Opportunities" is comprehensive and based on the creation of special protection areas in municipalities with high exposure to the phenomenon of child recruitment. In these areas, that we have called "playful homes", we favor the encounter with the arts, sports and new technologies during the day, and especially after-school long hours, so prevalent in our countries and in our rural areas. These areas are built with the utmost dignity and with the help of the community and this year they will be present in 25 municipalities.
And fifth, I would like to stress the crucial role of two Plenipotentiary women from the Colombian government in the peace process, where they represent an additional insight, necessary within the decision making process to reach the end of the armed conflict in my country.
All this, Mr. President and Mrs. Bangura, highlights the holistic view of Colombia to address this phenomenon.
I don't want to conclude without referring to the recommendations contained in the Report, particularly regarding the implementation of the law known as "Legal Framework for Peace", enacted in 2012. Just as Mrs. Bangura said this morning, there's a need to pass from legislation to implementation, and this is why this law address a needed strengthening of institutions and legal framework so all the citizens of my country can have the necessary mechanisms to ensure their access to truth, justice and reparation for all offenses associated with conflict and sexual violence that are, day by day, Mrs. Bangura, Mr. President, our priority.
Moreover, as the Report acknowledges it, you can count on us to continue our commitment to comply with the provisions of the various Security Council resolutions on the matter, especially resolution 1960 (2010), as well as the coordination with the UN agencies, provided that they are in accordance with the national authorities.