Colombia: Joint Press Statement on the 14th EU-Colombia Human Rights Dialogue
The 14th EU-Colombia Human Rights Dialogue was held in Brussels on 16 March 2023. The EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights and Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia, Mr Eamon Gilmore, and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Francisco Coy-Granados, chaired the Dialogue, in which Colombia and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to human rights and their willingness to advanceon common objectives both in their bilateral relations and at multilateral level and building on their close and long-standing cooperation on these matters.
Key topics on the agenda included the importance of guaranteeing a safe and enabling environment, free from hindrance and insecurity, for social leaders (including women, indigenous, Afro-Colombians and farmers), human rights and environmental defenders, and the security of ex-combatants. Colombia outlined new policies and actions to enhance their protection, while the EU assured Colombia of its continued support.
The parties also discussed the promotion and protection of human rights, including in regards to gender equality and LGBTI+ rights in the context of peace consolidation and conflict prevention. In this context, Colombia briefed the EU on its new security doctrine, focusing on human security. In view of the continued high rate of violence against human rights defenders, both sides agreed on the urgent need to reinforce preventive actions already advanced by the government, including collective protection, to counteract stigmatisation and to address the root causes of conflict, taking into account that minorities are disproportionally affected.
The need to combat the increasing recruitment and abuse of minors, especially of young girls and women, by illegal armed groups featured prominently in the discussions, including as well the importance of ensuring a protective environment with economic and educational opportunities in the most vulnerable regions of the country. Colombia highlighted its recent endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration and its work on a National Action Plan to implement its commitments in this regard.
On business and human rights, the EU presented the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence. On the link between the environment and human rights, the EU presented the draft EU Regulation on deforestation-free products. While sharing the values and principles of the initiatives, Colombia expressed its concerns about the possible impact on trade and the challenges for small producers and farmers. The EU emphasised that these initiatives are instrumental to succeed in the global fight against the climate and biodiversity crises, recalled that there is no ban against products coming from any country and assured Colombia of its commitment to close cooperation and dialogue on these initiatives. In addition, the parties discussed migration and human rights, both focusing on the protection and socio-economic integration of migrants and refugees, as well as support for host communities, which is also the focus of the Solidarity Conference co-hosted by the EU and Canada in Brussels on 16 and 17 March.
EU-Colombia cooperation on human rights in multilateral fora was also discussed. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to promote human rights, in particular gender equality in line with the women, peace and security agenda (resolution 1325). The parties confirmed their shared views on common challenges such as the urgency to address climate change, the strengthening of democracy and multilateralism, and the need for global peace and security. In this regard, Colombia reiterated its intention to become a member of the Human Rights Council in 2025 and called upon the EU Member States to support its candidacy.
Colombia and the European Union deplored the dire human rights and humanitarian consequences of Russia's aggression against Ukraine and expressed their grave concern at the high number of civilian casualties. Colombia and the European Union reiterated their firm commitment to international peace and security and a rules-based multilateral order, and in this regard condemned Russia's aggression against Ukraine.
The Dialogue was preceded by a Civil Society Seminar held on 10 March in Bogotá organised by the EU Delegation to Colombia with the participation of Colombian and European civil society representatives.
The EU and Colombia agreed to organise the next EU-Colombia Human Rights Dialogue in Bogotִá D.C., Colombia, during the first semester of 2024.