Colombia offered “permanent training” in human rights and landmine programs to countries of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) during a meeting on Thursday, according to the Colombian Defense Ministry.
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon made the offer at the South American Defense Council (CDS) meeting — which took place in the nation of Surinam — where he stated that Colombia leads the region in programs for human rights and humanitarian demining programs.
“Human rights and international humanitarian law, a subject of great interest in which Colombia, due to the type of situations that have confronted the [Colombian] armed forces, has developed good the capacity to deal with,” he stated.
Ongoing human rights issues in Colombia, exacerbated by the five-decade-long civil war involving guerrillas, paramiliatries, and criminal organizations, has brought the country criticism by its citizens and the international community.
Last year international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report that criticised the Colombian justice system and the government for failing to protect human rights through incomplete and counter-productive reforms — although they acknowledged the steps taken by current president Juan Manuel Santos to improve the issue.
“The Action Plan for 2014 CDS has four lines: Peace Operations, Training, Political Affairs and defense science, technology and industry, within which are Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian Demining,” Pinzon added at the meeting.
He stated that Colombia would also facilitate the training of landmine removal programs as “it is a significant issue for the present and for the future of Colombia […] and we have acquired a very important experience, however, it is worth using the knowledge of other nations.”
The civil conflict has also led to the proliferation of landmine use in the country by the various armed rebel groups, killing and displacing thousands of people.
The CDS meeting, which ends on Thursday and includes all UNASUR member states, is attended by ministers and representatives of defense from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela.
- Colombia ofrece capacitación en Derechos Humanos y Desminado Humanitario a los países de Unasur (Ministero de Defensa Press Release)
- Mindefensa participa en Consejo de Defensa Suramericano de Unasur (Ministero de Defensa Press Release)
- Estados Miembros (UNASUR)