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General Debate Item 2

Statement by Ireland

22 March 2017

Ireland aligns itself with the EU statement and adds the following.

Mr President,

Ireland welcomes all reports of the High Commissioner under this item including the report on the situation of human rights in Colombia.

Ireland warmly congratulates Colombia on the peace agreement reached between the Government of Colombia and the FARC and underlines the importance of its successful implementation to the advancement of human rights in Colombia. Peacebuilding and the full enjoyment of human rights are mutually reinforcing and form a virtuous circle which will help to address legacies of impunity and violence.

Ireland commends and is proud to support the important work of the Colombia Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. For many years the OHCHR has played a critical role in the promotion of human rights in Colombia and it will be central to the implementation of the peace accord by monitoring and accompanying its human rights aspects such as those relating to the rights of victims, security guarantees for demobilised FARC guerrillas, and sanctions handed down by the transitional justice mechanism.

Ireland notes that while the OHCHR in Colombia has undertaken additional responsibilities under the Peace Agreement, the resources available to it have not increased. We are of the strong view that the OHCHR in Colombia must be adequately resourced in order to fulfil its expanded mandate. Ireland for its part has modestly increased its funding to the OHCHR in Colombia in 2017 to take account of these new responsibilities. 

While Ireland welcomes progress in building peace in Colombia, we are concerned at the high level of violence and harassment against human rights defenders in Colombia and support the OHCHR’s call for greater national preventive and protective action.

All three complementary aspects of UN action – peace, development, and human rights – will be crucial in achieving sustainable peace in Colombia and Ireland will continue to support the OHCHR in carrying out its work.

The challenge of protecting and promoting human rights is not exclusive to Colombia and Ireland is also concerned by reports of increased violence and threats against environmental, land, and indigenous rights defenders in a number of countries in Central and South America, notably in Honduras and Guatemala.

Ireland condemns unreservedly such violence and intimidation. We call on the Governments concerned to ensure that the perpetrators of threats and attacks against them are brought to justice. 

Thank you.