Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 14, 2020
Thank you, Mr. President. Carlos, thank you for your update, and for the work of your team. Director Carabali, thank you for your briefing, and for your courageous efforts to defend human rights. And Foreign Minister Blum, as always, we welcome your presence with the Council.
But I really want to start out by thanking Christoph for his persistence in this happening today, and especially thanking those people that are not being seeing that were here at, I can’t even imagine what hours of the morning, to be able to set this up for us and to provide a detailed plan and logistics that we can all be here together and provide safety and security for each of us. So, thank you again. Thanks, Christoph. Can we all take a page from your book on your persistence? It’s amazing.
I’d like to begin by commending the government and people of Colombia, and the Verification Mission, for their efforts to continue implementing the peace accord against the backdrop of COVID-19. The pandemic has worsened an already complex humanitarian situation and it has negatively impacted the security situation of women and girls. It has strained health care and social services for many of Colombia’s most vulnerable communities, including the 1.8 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia.
In the face of these challenges, we recognize President Duque’s resolve to ensure the pandemic does not deter Colombia from its path toward prosperity and security. The Trump Administration continues to stand with the people of Colombia. On July the first, we announced the delivery of 200 ventilators donated by USAID, a continuation of our longstanding partnership and in addition to the nearly $13.6 million we have provided to help Colombia respond to this pandemic.
But I have said before, this is also a personal commitment for me. My travels to Colombia last fall, allowed me, firsthand, to see the heartening way in which Colombia welcomes those in need, providing human dignity to everyone, including refugees and displaced persons in their country. I’ve carried that touching experience back with me and I’m happy today that we are able to gather together to speak about it.
We must reiterate the urgency of protecting Colombia’s human rights defenders, social leaders, former combatants, and their families. Ending this violence, and holding those responsible accountable, must be the highest priority.
The Secretary-General’s report highlighted the impact of ongoing conflict-related violence on rural, Afro-Colombian, and indigenous communities. Let me be clear: there can be zero tolerance for human rights abuses, and reprisals and attacks against civil society actors should be vigorously investigated and prosecuted.
We must also condemn the activities of illegal armed groups and criminal organizations, which have used the pandemic to impose social control measures and illegal checkpoints, and to expand their territorial control during this pandemic.
We welcome Colombia’s continued progress in counternarcotic efforts and reiterate our commitment to continued partnership with the Duque Administration to combat the destructive illegal drug trade. The United States remains fully engaged with the Government of Colombia to reduce coca cultivation and cocaine production. By extending state presence, Colombia will foster integrated rural development and legitimate economic activities.
As we have said before, it is vital to ensure meaningful justice for victims and accountability for the crimes committed over decades of conflict, whether by the FARC, paramilitaries, or state agents, including the military in Colombia. A victim-centered transitional justice system that promotes peace and the pursuit of truth and justice is essential to Colombia’s peace process. Accountability should be for all.
Colombia’s peace accord is a remarkable achievement, but we are all conscious of the urgent needs that still must be addressed. It is essential to protect the lives of social leaders, human rights defenders, and former combatants; it is essential to sustain the reintegration process; and it is essential to address the need of the conflict-affected communities.
The Trump Administration stands firmly with the government and people of Colombia as we work together to build a more prosperous future.
Thank you, Mr. President.