Fourth Round of the U.S.-Colombia High-Level Partnership Dialogue
Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the fourth round of the High-Level Partnership Dialogue between the United States and Colombia on February 28. Together with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Holguin, Secretary Kerry opened the day with remarks. Commenting on the many areas of successful cooperation with Colombia, Secretary Kerry stated: “there’s no question in my mind that this relationship has special value, special importance, has a special place in this hemisphere, and we really look forward to developing further this partnership and this friendship.”
Delegations from the two countries held discussions in five working groups to expand cooperation in the areas of Democracy, Human Rights and Good Governance; Energy; Social and Economic Opportunities; Environmental Protection and Climate Change; and Culture and Education. The second U.S.-Colombia Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology also met to discuss scientific cooperation on agriculture, health, and earth science.
Among the many areas of deepened cooperation, the governments announced the following:
- Conflict Victims Civil Society Participation Program -- USAID in Colombia will award in 2014 a new four-year, $7 million program to a local Colombian civil society organization to increase civil society participation in the implementation of Colombia’s ground-breaking new Victims Law. The program will support victims and civil society groups working on reparation and land restitution issues by strengthening their ability to provide input to, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the new law.
- Addressing Human Rights and Justice in Conflict Zones, a $15 million Local Civil Society Program -- USAID in Colombia will award in 2014 a new four-year, $15 million program to a local Colombian civil society organization to assist national and sub-national governments in addressing human rights and rule of law needs at the local level. These efforts will focus on populations living in historically conflictive parts of the country and will work toward improving access to justice, preventing and responding to human rights violations, including gender-based violence, and combating corruption.
- Joint Statement of Intent Regarding Cooperation on Academic Mobility -- The Embassy of the United States in Colombia, the Commission for Educational Exchange Between the United States and Colombia, the Colombian Ministry of Education, and the Colombian Institute of Educational Credit and Technical Studies Abroad signed a joint statement to acknowledge the importance of strengthening educational and cultural ties between the United States and Colombia. Building on President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, the parties emphasize the mutual goal of finding new and better opportunities for educational and professional exchanges between the two countries.
- Memorandum of Understanding on National Parks -- The U.S. National Park Service and Natural National Parks System of Colombia signed an agreement to collaborate on the planning, development, and operation of national parks, as well as other protected areas and cultural sites, including through the establishment of “Sister Parks;” specialized projects related to fire and adaptation to climate change; and development of educational and public information.
- Joint Statement between the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Combating Trafficking in Persons -- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Johnson and Colombian Foreign Minister Holguin signed a joint statement to counter trafficking in persons that outlines shared principles on regional security, economic integrity, and liberty for all persons. It states both countries’ commitment to continue collaboration against trafficking in persons by increasing law enforcement efforts against criminals engaged in these activities. The statement underscores the importance of regional partnership, sharing existing resources and best practices, and working collaboratively to strengthen support infrastructures.
- Information and Communications Technology Steering Group -- Reflecting the December 2013 commitment of Presidents Obama and Santos to expand bilateral cooperation on information and communications technology (ICT), the governments of the United States and Colombia agreed to form a senior-level steering group to advance that goal. The steering group will explore and define future areas of cooperation, and develop a plan to involve the private sector in this effort.