Colombia Committed to Changes in Haiti as Part of UN Security Council

By Dialogo
October 18, 2010

On 13 October, the Colombian government celebrated its election as a member of the United Nations Security Council and expressed its commitment to promoting “true changes in Haiti,” in the words of Foreign Minister María Angela Holguín.

“We want to give a big push forward to an issue the Council is working on, which is Haiti. We want to push from Latin America and the Caribbean, where we are the representatives and spokespersons, so that the situation in Haiti changes,” the minister affirmed, speaking to private radio stations.

“What Haiti needs is a push in this direction, a further stage of reconstruction, and this is going to be an issue that’s very important for us,” the foreign minister emphasized, after explaining that although her country is seeking to contribute its experience with several issues, it will not bring new issues before the body.

“We’re going to be there to participate with enthusiasm, but with the Council’s agenda. There are already established issues there. We want to get deeply involved in the issue of Haitian reconstruction and do as much as possible, but we’re not going to bring new issues before the Council,” she concluded.

Sectors of the Colombian Congress called on the government Wednesday to bring the issue of the fight against drug trafficking and the principle of co-responsibility up for debate in the international body.

“Colombia’s first task in the Security Council must be to raise the topic of the fight against drugs that our region, and especially Colombia, has had to take on for many years, while the efforts of the consuming countries continue to be minimal,” Sen. Alexandra Moreno told AFP.

Senator Moreno, vice-president of the Senate, alleged that her country “cannot continue standing up against the drug-trafficking mafias, spraying its fields, and making canon fodder out of peasants who today are doing manual eradication, while consumption continues unchecked in the consuming countries.”

Analysts consulted by AFP characterized Colombia’s election as a significant diplomatic achievement by Santos’s administration, but they emphasized that the administration will have little room to maneuver in introducing novel issues.

“It’s the first great international achievement by President Juan Manuel Santos, who received a regionally isolated and controversial country from his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, and in only two months succeeded in obtaining massive backing for the country’s candidacy,” international-relations expert Ricardo Abello judged.

Abello, of the private University of the Rosary, urged the president “to carefully design a diplomatic strategy to take advantage of this position on the Council,” as he said, “not in order to introduce local issues, but rather in order to obtain greater international backing for the country’s interests.”

Holguín’s declarations followed President Juan Manuel Santos’s commitment, announced Tuesday, to make his country “the voice of Latin America and the Caribbean on the Security Council.”

“In us they will find a country ready to listen, to engage in dialogue, and to search for solutions. In addition, Colombia will have a special responsibility when dealing with issues of international peace and security,” the Colombian president emphasized.

Santos offered his country’s experience in the fight against transnational crime and against terrorism as a basis on which to “make major contributions as part of the group of fifteen countries that, from their position at the heart of the UN, debate and decide about the future of conflicts and situations that can put world peace and security at risk,” he said.

With 186 votes in favor and none against in the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, Colombia was elected Tuesday as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, which it will join on 1 January 2011 for a two-year term, replacing Mexico.

Together with Brazil, Colombia will represent Latin America on the UN’s executive body. The Security Council has fifteen members, five of which are permanent and have veto power (China, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States).