Here are some recent questions in Parliament relating to Colombia…
2 November 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent meetings and discussions he has had with the Colombian Ambassador to the UK on how the UK can effectively support the peace process in Colombia.
I last spoke to the Colombian Ambassador about the peace process on 17 October and underlined the UK’s support for the peace process. To date, the Conflict Stability and Security Fund has provided almost £20 million in funding to projects supporting peace in Colombia. We have also contributed a larger amount on programmes that support peace indirectly, for example through environmental sustainability. The UK has also led UN Security Council action to monitor disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the FARC, and now the ELN (National Liberation Army) ceasefire.
30 October 2017
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the government of Colombia to ensure that the recent peace agreement is fully implemented in consultation with local communities.
Through the Conflict Security and Stability Fund (CSSF) and our contribution to the UN Trust Fund, the UK is supporting local participation in regional development plans that flow from the Peace Agreement. The UK is also supporting a project to give the High Commissioner for Peace a regional presence, which will improve links with local communities.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what technical support they are providing to the government of Colombia to ensure that an effective system of transitional justice is implemented under the recent peace agreement.
The UK is supporting the implementation of Transitional Justice mechanisms required by Colombia’s Peace Agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) through programmes funded by the Conflict Security and Stability Fund (CSSF). This includes helping the Colombian Government establish the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, and promoting the rights of victims, and access to justice for women.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the government of Colombia to progress peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), extend the bilateral ceasefire, and to fully dismantle the paramilitary groups.
I welcome the temporary ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the UK encourage all efforts that lead to a lasting peace. The UK played a leading role in the UN Security Council that led to the adoption of Resolution 2377 on 5 October, which authorises the UN Mission in Colombia to monitor the ceasefire.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the government of Colombia to protect those defending human rights; and how they are helping the government of Colombia to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of crimes against those defending human rights.
Working together to improve respect for human rights is a key part of our relationship with the Colombian Government and civil society. The Prime Minister raised the issue of violence against human rights defenders with President Santos during the State Visit last November. At a practical level, our Ambassador to Colombia is a member of the group “Ambassadors with Defenders” which promotes the work of human rights defenders and raises concerns about specific cases with the Colombian Government. Through the Global Britain Fund, our Embassy in Bogota supports projects that promote the role of human rights defenders and strengthen the investigatory capacity of the Public Prosecutor’s office. In January, British Embassy staff in Bogota took part in a visit to South Bolivar, where local community leaders have voiced concerns about their security. As a result of this visit, the Office of the Presidential Advisor on Human rights committed to request the Colombian Ministry of Defence to provide additional security measures for community leaders.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that UK businesses operating in Colombia are required to carry out human rights due diligence in relation to their overseas operations and do not initiate projects in Colombia without gaining free, prior and informed consent from the communities that they affect.
The UK National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights sets out how the Government is implementing the UN Guiding Principles. British firms are expected to uphold these principles in their overseas operations, as well as in the UK. We worked closely with the Colombian authorities to develop their National Action Plan, published in December 2015. All companies operating in Colombia, including British ones, are expected to comply with the requirements and guidelines set out in that National Action Plan. British companies are expected to incorporate human rights into their Corporate Social Responsibility policies. We have also provided technical assistance for British companies in non-judicial dispute resolution.