he top United Nations political officer has presided over a meeting bringing together the world body’s senior officials and high-level representatives from the Government of Colombia to discuss efforts to bring peace to the South American country which has seen more than 40 years of fighting between the Government, leftist rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and criminal gangs.
Chaired by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn B. Pascoe, the meeting on Monday “allowed an open and constructive exchange on the United Nations’ work in Colombia, as well as on the status of peace efforts in Colombia,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters today in New York.
At the discussions, UN officials told the Colombian delegation, led by Vice President Francisco Santos and Foreign Minister Fernando Araújo, that Mr. Ban is willing to utilize his good offices in support of a negotiated solution.
Colombian representatives stated that “should appropriate conditions exist, the Colombian Government would value the UN’s contribution in its peace efforts,” Ms. Montas said.
The country has the largest population of concern to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with some 3 million people uprooted by decades of conflict and internally displaced persons (IDPs) represent some 8 per cent of the total population of over 40 million.
On a visit to UN Headquarters in New York in February, President Alvaro Uribe said that despite the decline in the number of people fleeing their homes yearly, “we still have displacement and we ought to undertake every possible effort so that Colombia will finally be able to say to the world that we have put an end to displacement.”