Tuesday, 17 September 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Colombian Peace Process
97. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to recent negative developments regarding the peace process in Colombia in that the peace process is under strain and there is an increased risk of renewed violence; the new measures he will take to support the peace process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37282/19]
As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland has been a long-standing and committed supporter of the Colombian peace process. Ireland has committed more than €14 million in funding to Colombia since 2007 to prevent conflict, build peace, protect human rights and support the livelihoods of rural populations.
Ireland was a founding member of the EU Trust Fund for Colombia, and continues to provide funding to the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, in their work to support the implementation of the peace accords.
I met today with Foreign Minister Trujillo of Colombia and we had a very useful discussion on the current state of the peace process.
I am aware that there have been some concerning recent developments in Colombia's peace process. The video that circulated of a number of former FARC leaders stating their intention to withdraw from the peace process is deeply troubling. However, it is understood that the vast majority of former FARC members remain committed to reincorporation and to the peace process.
I would like to echo the EU statement of 29 August which underlines that the only way to properly address differences and overcome difficulties in the implementation of the peace agreement is through dialogue and political participation. As all deputies in this House are aware, building peace is a task that requires sustained engagement and the dedication of Government, those formerly engaged in the conflict, and civil society, with the support of the international community.
Ireland will continue to provide support to the Colombian peace process through funding to international organisations, but also through lesson sharing programmes between Ireland and Colombia, based on our own experience of peace building on this island. As we know well in Ireland, the signing of a peace agreement only marks the beginning of a process. We understand the slow and painstaking work that goes into building trust between communities to enable reconciliation and to develop a culture of trust. We have had many dark moments and setbacks, and we understand that peace building is the work of generations.
The opening of our Embassy in Bogotá earlier this year marked a significant moment in our relationship with Colombia, and has also enhanced our ability to provide support to the Colombian peace process. Officials at are Embassy monitor developments in this area closely and regularly engage on peacebuilding and reconciliation with the Colombian Government.
My Department supported the travel of three experts from Northern Ireland to Colombia in June to engage with the Government on key elements of the peace agreement and its implementation. Officials at my Department in Dublin were also pleased to meet last week with Dr. Emilio Archila, Presidential Counsellor for Stabilisation and Consolidation of Colombia, who is responsible for the implementation of the peace accords.
Ireland remains committed to supporting the full implementation of the peace accords in Colombia to ensure a more peaceful future for all Colombians. I look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Colombia and with our EU partners to ensure a coordinated and effective approach that best supports the peace process.