Last Updated:2/3/05
Statement of several international NGOS upon the Cartagena donors' meeting, February 3, 2005

Pronouncement of International NGOs to the
Meeting on International Coordination and Aid for Colombia

Cartagena de Indias, 3 February 2005

As international civil society organizations working for Colombia, we commend the efforts made by national and international civil society, the Colombian government, the donor community and United Nations, to promote and maintain spaces for dialogue. The London Declaration rightly linked the State's security policy to human rights and International Humanitarian Law, within the framework of international aid, so as so strengthen the Social State of Law. In so doing, it provided an aid agenda which articulates human rights, peace and development. Nevertheless, we observe with concern that the draft of the Cartagena Declaration diverges from this path.

We value the creation of spaces for dialogue between Colombian civil society and government, and the related efforts of coordination, manifest in the formation of the Alianza and the G-24, which together with United Nations have facilitated this process.

Proposals to the international community:

To make explicit its recognition of existence of the internal armed conflict and the humanitarian crisis in Colombia and, on this basis, maintain and increase its support for finding adequate solutions.

In relation to peace and justice:

Demand that the Colombian government adopt a State peace policy, complete with implementation mechanisms, which ensures that crimes do not meet with impunity. An integral part of this policy should be the adoption of a legal framework that complies with international norms, and guarantees the dismantling of illegal armed structures, and the return of lands and other goods obtained illegally. The victims have rights to truth, justice and reparation, and to participate in the process from their own perspective.

Maintain support to local and regional peace initiatives that are premised on the right to not participate in the conflict.

In relation to protection:

Expand and strengthen programmes of support to effective policies and programmes of prevention and protection of the civilian population, in particular the work of the organs of control (Human Rights Ombudsman's Office, Attorney General's Office, Municipal Ombudsmans' Offices and the Human Rights Unit of the Public Prosecutor's Office). This support enables these organs to carry out their tasks of defending and guaranteeing the rights of the population, providing special protection to human rights defenders, displaced people and social sectors such as women, indigenous groups, black communities, trade unionists, educators and journalists.

Promote the creation of monitoring mechanisms for programmes and policies such as the Early Warning System and returns of displaced communities; and a system for monitoring phenomena such as torture and disappearance, which continue to occur at alarming levels.

In relation to the cooperation strategy:

Give unequivocal support to the United Nations system as the universal expression of multilateralism, which is expressed in political and financial backing of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and seeks the continuation of its mandate. Recognition of the good offices of the United Nations for Colombia, which have not enjoyed the necessary institutional support. Strengthening of the crucial role of the UN Office for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA).

Demand of the Colombian government a Humanitarian Action Plan that has broad legitimacy, to assist the victims of the humanitarian crisis, generated by the armed conflict. Also the financing of the National Plan for Integral Attention to the Displaced Population.

Peruse the Cooperation Strategy from a position of commitment to seeking an equitable and differentiated model of development appropriate for all social and ethnic groups; a negotiated solution to the internal armed conflict; and the inclusion, in the proposals presented to the international community, of a peace strategy which respects economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.

As set out in the London Declaration, maintain support for social organizations and NGOs, as important participants in the construction and monitoring of the International Cooperation Strategy. Ensure that the design, execution and evaluation of the Strategy reflect the contributions that civil society makes.

In relation to the process ahead:

Insist on the fulfillment of the commitments forged in London, by the Colombian government and all other signatories, emphasizing paragraph 37of the last Chairman's Statement of the Human Rights Commission. This recommends that this Meeting should examine the implementation and evaluation of the UN Recommendations. Cartagena is an opportunity to re-affirm these commitments, assess progress and above all identify and address the challenges that lie ahead.

Reiterate the need to undertake concrete actions and establish indicators that permit the assessment of progress, in respect of conclusions and proposals for evaluation of the Recommendations and of the Thematic round-tables that generated the Cooperation Strategy. We recommend that the Monitoring Commission (Comisión de Seguimiento) be the forum for these dialogues.

We wish to emphasize our serious concern at the prospect of leaving Cartagena with a weakened Declaration that fails to reflect the realities of the country or the rights of a population affected by armed conflict. We would request, therefore, that any final Declaration include:
" Explicit reference to the internal armed conflict and the humanitarian crisis
" The insistence on a legal framework for demobilization processes, compliant with international standards
" Firm support for the Offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, High Commissioner for Refugees and Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, and a Humanitarian Action plan that enjoys broad legitimacy.
If the above-mentioned recommendations are not included in the text of the Declaration, we would consider it better - for the Colombian people - to adhere to the commitments adopted by governments of the G-24 and of Colombia in the London Declaration.

Finally, we would point out that there are many international NGOs and unfortunately several were not invited to today's meeting. But, thanks to a concerted effort of dialogue, we have signed this joint pronouncement, and we re-affirm our will to continue participating actively and concertedly, in the construction of an inclusive, broad-based peace process, in the interests of the population affected by the conflict.

ABC Colombia
Benposta Internacional
Caritas Sweden
Catalan Platform for Peace Human Rights in Colombia
Christian Aid UK and Ireland
Church World Service
Civis Sweden
Diakonia Sweden
DIAL - Inter-Agency Dialogue
Federation of Associations of Defence and Promotion of Human Rights, Spain
Human Rights Watch
International Office of Human Rights - Action Colombia (OIDHACO)
Lutheran World Relief
Misereor Germany
Norwegian Refugee Council - Norway
NOVIB - Oxfam Netherlands
Oxfam GB
Peace Brigades International (PBI)
Presbyterian Church of the US (PECUSA)
Project Counselling Services - PCS (Interpares - Canada, HEKS - Switzerland, Danish Refugee Council - Denmark, ACT - Holland)
Refugees International
Save the Children Sweden
Secours Catholique - Caritas France
Swedish Human Rights Foundation
Swiss-Colombian NGO Coordination
Terre des Hommes Germany
US Office on Colombia (USOC)
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

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