Colombia’s foreign minister promoted the country’s model for compensating victims of armed conflict Thursday at the United Nations (UN) Thursday.
Chairing an open debate at the UN Security Council on peace building, Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said, “Our efforts should be aimed at bringing hope to the population, to provide decent living opportunities and to overcome the conditions and realities of the past.”
In reference to the Santos administration’s Victims and Land Restitution Law, which aims to compensate Colombia’s victims of armed conflict, Holguin advocated the need for “public policies to compensate the victims and create efficient mechanisms for promoting social and economic development that especially benefit the most vulnerable and affected.” She added, “There is no substitute for the strengthening of national institutions.”
The Victims Law, which went into effect in January, offers payments of up to $11,000 for the estimated four million people affected by violence committed by guerrilla and paramilitary groups since 1985, and it also looks to provide land restitutions to displaced people.
In June, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said that up to 115,000 could be compensated under the law by the end of 2012. He hoped that by 2016, 380,000 people will have received reparations. However analysts have pointed out the country does not currently have enough money to achieve the program’s ambitions as stated.
Colombia has suffered ongoing armed conflict of some kind within its borders since 1964, a year that marked the founding of Latin America’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC. Combat between government forces and guerrilla groups, as well as the addtion of right-wing paramilitaries to the conflict in the 1980s, allegedly acting in response to guerrilla threats, have killed tens of thousands of Colombians and forcibly displaced millions more. Illegal armed groups consisting of former paramilitary members sprouted up following demobilizations, which commenced in 2003, and further complicated Colombia’s already muddled security situation.
Colombia holds the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of July. In 2010, Colombia became one of ten non-permanent members of the Security Council. Each presiding country holds the presidency for one calendar month each year. The Security Council holds the responsibility of maintaining peace and security the world over, according to the UN’s mandate.