Helen Clark: Speech at the Julia Taft Award Ceremony Recognising the Work of UNDP in ColombiaJul 17, 2013
UNDP Administrator Speech at the Julia Taft Award Ceremony Recognising the Work of UNDP in Colombia
4:30 PM, Wednesday 17 July 2013
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It is a pleasure once again to be present at the Julia Taft Award ceremony. My thanks go to the US friends of UNDP for organizing this event, and to the family of Julia Taft and to the many friends of Julia and of UNDP who are attending tonight, including those from the Diplomatic Corps, Congress, and the Administration.
This award is made to a UNDP Country Office which demonstrates, as Julia Taft herself did, efforts to help improve the lives of poor and vulnerable people, particularly in challenging situations, and to contribute to building a more democratic, prosperous and peaceful world.
Tonight's award recognizes UNDP's Country Office in Colombia. I am very pleased to see here the UNDP Country Director, Silvia Rucks, representing the UNDP Colombia team. I would also like to acknowledge Bruno Moro, who served as the UNDP Resident Representative in Colombia from 2006 to 2013 and made a very important contribution to UNDP's work there. It means a great deal to Bruno, the new RC/RR Fabrizio Hochschild, Silvia Rucks, and all staff in UNDP in Colombia to receive this acknowledgement of their work tonight.
Five months ago I visited Colombia to attend a global UNDP conference on MDG acceleration and was able to see for myself the valuable work that the UNDP Country Office is doing. Colombia is a complex country with huge potential and with significant challenges - most notably from the impact on development of the armed conflict of the past half century.
In 2012, the Government and the largest Colombian guerrilla movement, the FARC, signed a framework to begin negotiations to end the conflict. There is now the best opportunity in well over a decade to bring the armed conflict to an end, and open the way for inclusive and sustainable development.
UNDP has been supporting communities and civil society organizations in Colombia throughout the decades of conflict and has worked to defend its victims. Since 2011 we have supported 900 victims' organizations to strengthen their capacity to defend their right to truth, justice, and reparation. In that same time frame, we have enabled legal and psychosocial support to reach many thousands of victims.
It was UNDP's work at the local level and with civil society in the areas of peace-building and support for human rights, which led the government and FARC to call on us to lead the organization of national consultations to generate proposals for the talks between the Government and the FARC guerrillas.
It is a testament to the respect, credibility, determination, and capacity of the UN and UNDP in Colombia that they were able to organize two public fora to give input into the talks at short notice and involved more than 2,500 civil society participants.
UNDP has long believed that civil society ownership of peace agreements is central to their sustainability. We hope that the efforts made in the past year to engage civil society in formal dialogue about the future will result in a firm and lasting peace.
Many thanks go to all our partners who support UNDP's work in Colombia, including here in the U.S.A.-your goodwill and/ or funding has been essential to our success.
I would also like to acknowledge the skill, dedication, and commitment of our national staff, who make up over 95 per cent of our UNDP staff in Colombia. These colleagues are committed to a peaceful and inclusive future for the people of Colombia.
At UNDP Headquarters in New York, we are proud of the work our colleagues are doing in Colombia and are delighted to see the Country Office recognized through the Julia Taft Award.