UNDP Colombia honored for work to build peace, end povertyJul 17, 2013
Washington—US Friends of the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) today presented its annual Julia V. Taft Award to the
UNDP Colombia Country Office in recognition of its vital work to end
conflict and tackle poverty and inequality in the Latin American
“I am proud of the work our colleagues are doing in Colombia and am
delighted to see the Country Office recognized through the Julia Taft
Award,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark told a reception here. “On my
visit to Colombia earlier this year, I saw for myself examples of UNDP’s
work at the national and local levels and was deeply impressed.”
Five decades of armed conflict in Colombia—the longest-running war in
Latin America—have produced one of the world’s largest internally
displaced populations. Widespread violations against civilians included
extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and land theft.
In 2012, the Government of Colombia and Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) rebel group agreed to a peace process, which is ongoing
in Cuba. UNDP Colombia has supported the peace talks as well as efforts
to document abuses, support victims, and facilitate access to justice
for thousands of Colombians.
“All of the Americas will benefit from a stable, peaceful, equitable
Colombia and it is deeply encouraging to receive this award in
appreciation of our work,” UNDP Country Director Silvia Rucks said in
accepting the award, presented by National Democratic Institute
President Kenneth Wollack. “It is also a tribute to donors from the
international community who make our work possible.”
“A peace agreement will not magically end the many types of violence
that affect Colombia. But it will lay the groundwork for a more
inclusive and peaceful society.”
In 2012-2013, in close coordination with the UN Country Team, UNDP
was requested by Colombia’s Congressional Peace Commissions to organize
18 regional fora to gather input from civil society on the issues on the
peace agenda, ranging from rural development, to illegal crop
substitution, to victims’ rights. Subsequent consultations, requested
by the Government and the FARC rebel group, have focused on land issues
and political participation.
More than 7,400 participants representing some 3,324 organizations
have taken part in these processes, drafting 1,464 proposals that senior
UN officials have conveyed to peace negotiators.
Throughout the years UNDP has provided technical and legal help to
the government to document more than 1,600 massacres, over 173,000
murders, and some 77,000 cases of forced displacement that occurred
during the war. Legal aid has been provided to nearly 10,000 victims
while some 220 UNDP-supported legal and psychosocial workshops have
helped victims across the country.
In some parts of Colombia, UNDP experts have helped exhume remains,
providing evidence in the investigation of more than 9,400 missing
person cases. A national missing persons’ register has been established
with UNDP help. Other legal changes, such as enactment of the 2011
Victims and Land Restitution Law, aim to provide reparations by 2014 to
more than 400,000 people who had land stolen.
Some 27,400 living victims have received justice from the
UNDP-supported Ombudsman’s Office, while 75,000 people have now received
compensation for suffering resulting from various crimes, landmine
contamination, or the loss of family members.
With a significant presence in remote, conflict-affected areas and
offices in 11 departments, UNDP Colombia also oversees major programs
aimed at reducing poverty—which is most acute in rural areas—supporting
good governance, and promoting inclusive, equitable economic growth.
In addition, UNDP coordinates international cooperation on transitional justice through a Basket Fund supported by Belgium, Canada, the European Union, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, and others.
About the award
The Julia V. Taft Award is presented annually by a panel of prominent
private citizen and development experts--formerly constituting the US
Committee for UNDP—to a UNDP Country Office that has demonstrated the
impact of teamwork to build a more democratic, prosperous, peaceful, and
secure world in a particularly challenging location.
The award was established in 2009 in memory of Julia Taft, an active
member of the US Committee for UNDP, now US Friends of UNDP, before her
untimely death from cancer in 2008.
A leading authority on humanitarian and international development
issues, Julia Taft served as the Assistant Administrator and Director in
the Bureau of Crisis Prevention & Recovery at UNDP from 2001-2004.
She served as Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population,
Refugees, & Migration from 1997-2001, and as president and CEO of
Washington-based NGO alliance InterAction from 1993-1997.
She also served as USAID Director of the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance. The Julia V. Taft award was presented to the UNDP Country Office in Sudan in 2009, the UNDP Country Office in Haiti in 2010, the UNDP Country Office in Afghanistan in 2011 and the UNDP Country Office in Tunisia.