Annual Report Pursuant to the Agreement concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia

For the period January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016


Executive Summary

  1. Introduction
  2. Reporting Requirement under the CCOFTA Implementation Act
  3. Colombian Human Rights Context
  4. Colombian and Canadian Economic Context
  5. Actions Taken by Canada under the CCOFTA Implementation Act in 2016
  6. Trade Gains under the CCOFTA
  7. Actions Taken by Canada under its Agreements on Labour Cooperation and Environment, and in Association with the CCOFTA
  8. Consultations with Stakeholders
  9. Government of Canada Programming, Advocacy, and Capacity Building Activities for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Colombia

Annexes


Executive Summary

This is Canada’s sixth report pursuant to the Agreement concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia. The purpose of the report is to review how actions taken by the Government of Canada in the context of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement impact human rights in Canada and Colombia.

Canada and Human Rights

The promotion and protection of human rights are integral parts of Canadian foreign and domestic policies. The Government of Canada is committed to working to ensure that the human rights and dignity of all human beings - in Canada and around the world - are respected.

The Government of Canada works through multilateral organizations, bilateral engagement, development assistance and trade policy to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights internationally. Championing the values of inclusive and accountable governance, including by promoting human rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality, peaceful pluralism, inclusion and respect for diversity is an important part of this work.

Canada’s international engagement is based on the principle that human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. As a respected member of the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Commonwealth, La Francophonie and other international bodies, Canada helps to strengthen and maintain international respect for human rights.

This includes the Government of Canada’s work supporting human rights defenders; engaging with international partners and civil society; standing up for fundamental labour rights; advancing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons; working to end the death penalty and torture; advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, and those of Indigenous peoples in Canada and abroad; and promoting and defending the rights of girls and women.

Canada made important progress in 2016 by expanding and reinvigorating its comprehensive approach to defending and promoting all human rights through the creation of the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion within Global Affairs Canada. Canada also began steps for accession to the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and announced its intention to adhere to the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Canada has been elected to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women and announced its full support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and intention to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian constitution.

Canada also enhanced the way it engages abroad. Human rights, freedoms and inclusion are now among the fundamental objectives of all Canadian heads of mission, and Canada seeks clemency for all Canadians facing execution abroad.

Canada has also become a more active and vocal supporter of the brave defenders who speak up about human rights violations and abuses and who work to hold the powerful accountable for their actions. Most recently, Canada introduced guidelines on supporting human rights defenders, a practical tool for Canada’s diplomatic officials to help empower human rights defenders to be more effective advocates and help protect them from the threats they all too often face.

Canada-Colombia Relationship

The Government of Canada takes a whole of government approach to its bilateral relations with Colombia through its political, consular, commercial, development, and peace and security programming.

Canada enjoys a multifaceted relationship with Colombia, which includes close economic ties; open dialogue on human rights and workers’ rights; longstanding development cooperation and labour-related technical assistance; support for Colombia’s justice, security and peace-building efforts; growing mobility between our two countries (tourism, study, business, immigration); military and security cooperation; and close cooperation on multilateral issues.

Colombia is an important partner for Canada in Latin America and our two countries share important values and priorities, such as fighting climate change, promoting peaceful pluralism, improving security, furthering trade liberalization, supporting social inclusion, prioritizing sustainable growth and strengthening the rule of law.

Colombia is also an important partner for Canada internationally, with a shared commitment to the values of democracy, transparency, multilateralism, economic cooperation and integration. Canada and Colombia enjoy constructive cooperation and shared values at the OAS, the UN and in other multilateral and international organizations and forums. Colombia is a founding member of the Pacific Alliance, with which Canada signed a joint declaration on partnership in 2016.

Canada remains supportive of Colombia’s OECD accession efforts, recognizing that there are technical issues that still need to be overcome. Canada’s bilateral programming activities provide support to Colombia in areas which address some of the remaining issues to be resolved for Colombia to complete its OECD accession process.

Colombia Peace Agreement

2016 was a landmark year for Colombia which culminated in the signing of a peace agreement between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) bringing to an end the last major conflict in the hemisphere.

After over five decades of armed conflict and more than four years of intense and complicated negotiations in Cuba, a peace agreement was signed by Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos and FARC Commander, “Timochenko” in the presence of regional and international leaders, although defeated a week later in a national plebiscite. A final, revised peace deal was ratified by the Colombian National Assembly on November 30, 2016. In recognition of this great accomplishment, President Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Implementation of the agreement has commenced and the Government of Colombia announced on March 30, 2016 that formal peace talks with the second largest insurgency group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), would also be launched.

The prospect of peace in Colombia is a major geo-political development with regional implications. A lasting peace will be the foundation upon which advances can be made in improving the human rights situation for all Colombians. Canada committed over $78 million in 2016 specifically for the peace process.

Implementation of the peace agreement will be a long-term process and Canada continues to be a steadfast partner for the Government of Colombia and all Colombians as they move forward to implement a lasting and durable peace.

Annual Report

Canada and Colombia enjoy a strong commercial relationship supported by the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCOFTA). Canada is positioning itself as a partner of choice in Colombia and will continue to work with Colombia to explore new ways to deepen our mutual commitment to a progressive and inclusive trade agenda, and to support the Colombian economy in the post-conflict period.

This report, together with the CCOFTA, joins a range of actions—including advocacy and bilateral and development cooperation—through which this support is provided.

As in previous years, the report sets out the Government of Canada’s obligations under this reporting mechanism, including its scope and limitations. It includes economic baseline information on the global economy, as well as the Canadian and Colombian economies. It reviews the actions taken under the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and provides an analysis of trade gains for different tariff categories.

In accordance with the tenets of open and accountable government, preparation of this report included broad consultation. A public call for written submissions was issued welcoming submissions from Colombia and Canada during a four week period. Consultations also included in-person meetings with key stakeholders and representatives of civil society.

Comments received through the consultation process raised concerns about the scope of the annual report, Canada’s approach to business and human rights in general, as well as broader human rights issues in Colombia. The report includes a summary of comments received including those regarding concerns outside the scope of the report, in acknowledgment of their importance.

The report also outlines the various aspects of Canada’s bilateral engagement with Colombia and the programming tools employed to support Colombia in its efforts to address the challenges highlighted in this report.

The report concludes with a summary of findings.

Introduction

Canada and Colombia signed the Agreement concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia (“the Agreement”) on May 27, 2010. This unique agreement requires that Canada and Colombia each produce an annual report on the effect of actions taken under the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia (Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, “CCOFTA”) on human rights in both countries.

The Agreement entered into force on August 15, 2011, concurrently with the CCOFTA, as well as two other related agreements, the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia (“Labour Cooperation Agreement”) and the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia (“Environment Agreement”).

Canada tabled its first report pursuant to the Agreement on May 15, 2012. This current report is Canada’s sixth report pursuant to the Agreement.

Reporting Requirement under the CCOFTA Implementation Act

2.1 Canada’s Statutory Obligation under the Agreement

Canada’s obligations under the Agreement are incorporated into Canadian domestic law under section 15.1 of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Implementation Act (“Implementation Act”):

15.1 Pursuant to the Agreement Concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade Between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the Minister shall cause to be laid before each House of Parliament by May 15 of each year or, if that House is not then sitting, on any of the 30 days next thereafter that it is sitting, a report on the operation of this Act during the previous calendar year, containing a general summary of all actions taken under the authority of this Act, and an analysis of the impact of these actions on human rights in Canada and the Republic of Colombia.

2.2 Actions under Consideration

The Implementation Act specifies that the Government of Canada is required to table a report on the impact of human rights in Canada and Colombia of actions taken under the authority of the Implementation Act. As the Implementation Act includes the CCOFTA, the Environment Agreement and the Labour Cooperation Agreement, actions taken under all three agreements are considered by this report.

2.3 Scope and Limitations

As the Implementation Act governs Canadian domestic implementation of these three agreements, only the impact of actions taken by the Government of Canada under these agreements will be considered in this report. Private sector activities are not within the scope of the report.

2.4 Time Period under Consideration

The Implementation Act commits Canada to report “on the operation of this Act during the previous calendar year” (Section 15.1 of the Implementation Act). The 2017 annual report is, therefore, required to cover the period from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

2.5 Human Rights under Consideration

The promotion and protection of human rights are integral parts of Canadian foreign and domestic policies. Canada champions the values of inclusive and accountable governance, including by promoting human rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality, and peaceful pluralism, inclusion and respect for diversity.

At home and abroad, the Government of Canada is working to improve areas such as relations with Indigenous peoples, the rights of women, gender equality and access to justice. The Government’s commitment to a new relationship with Indigenous peoples extends to Canada’s foreign policy.

Canada works through multilateral organizations, bilateral engagement, development assistance and trade policy to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as fundamental labour rights, internationally.

Canada's international engagement is based on the principle that human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

This report joins a range of actions—including advocacy and bilateral and development cooperation—through which Canada supports Colombia’s ongoing efforts towards greater peace, security, prosperity and respect for human rights.

Colombian Human Rights Context

In reviewing the potential impact on human rights of actions taken in the context of the CCOFTA, it is important to consider the context, political and economic, in which these actions are taken.

Colombia is a rapidly growing middle-income country with ambitious aspirations for increased global responsibility and membership, including participation in international peacekeeping operations and OECD accession. At the same time, it is emerging from over 50 years of internal armed conflict that has resulted in over 220,000 mainly civilian deaths, displaced more than 6.8 million Colombians and is home to extreme inequalities. Landmines and unexploded ordnance in Colombia have also killed or injured more than 11,000 over the past 25 years and left Colombia one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world. Poverty, violence and human rights violations and abuses continue to be a concern, mostly in rural areas, especially where the State’s presence is limited.

2016 was a landmark year for Colombia. Following over four years of negotiations, a historic peace agreement was signed between the Government of Colombia and the largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on November 24, 2016. This agreement brings to an end the last major conflict in the hemisphere. The peace agreement was ratified by the Colombian National Assembly on November 30, 2016. In January 2016, a resolution of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) authorised the creation of a UN Special Political Mission to assist with implementation of the peace agreement and to monitor the ceasefire, disarmament and demobilization process. Implementation of the peace agreement has commenced and will be an ongoing process.

The prospect of peace in Colombia is a major geo-political development and a lasting peace will provide the foundation upon which a more secure and prosperous Colombia can be built.

3.1 Current Status of Human Rights in Colombia

Over the past few years, the Government of Colombia has shown considerable commitment to improving the situation of human rights in the country, introducing a number of precedent-setting initiatives and instruments such as the Victims’ and Land Restitution Law (Law 1448). Since the implementation of the Law in 2012, an impressive number of victims (503,618), mostly forced displacements, have received compensation from the State. While over 9,695 land restitution claims had been registered as of the end of 2016, only a small percentage have been adjudicated due to a variety of challenges, including establishing the identity of claimants and a historically weak or non-existent system of land titles. A national strategy for improving human rights was put in place in 2014 with a 20-year action plan and 2016 saw a Presidential decree against human trafficking. Important efforts are being made by the Presidential Counselor for Human Rights to consolidate the system of institutions that contribute to the protection of human rights in Colombia. 2016 also marked the first year of implementation of the National Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

Colombia has strong laws protecting human rights, but issues remain with their implementation and enforcement. While warning and reporting mechanisms exist to report threats and acts of violence, systems often lack adequate funding and resources, and investigations can often take months if not years to come to completion and do not often end in charges.

Local human rights groups often lament the lack of adequate investigations and protection measures. According to Amnesty International, Colombia has one of the highest levels of impunity in the world. Of the total homicides reported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2015, the majority are still only in the investigation stages. The National Commission to Guarantee the Dismantlement of Criminal Organizations, established as part of the Peace Accords, is expected to raise the profile of violence against human rights defenders while strengthening government mechanisms to protect them.

On the whole, in 2016 Colombia showed an improvement in the situation of human rights with overall levels of violence in the country continuing to decrease. For example, according to official figures, the homicide rate in 2016 was 20.6 per 100,000 people, compared to 33 in 2013. Kidnappings, which at the height of the conflict numbered in the thousands annually, have decreased from 299 cases in 2013 to 164 in 2016. However, a number of key concerns remain: continued forced displacements (over 3000 families were forcibly displaced in 2016); child recruitment; high-levels of sexual and gender-based violence related to the conflict and insecurity; and homicides and threats against vulnerable groups (Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in particular).

Statistics on the situation of human rights defenders illustrate a worrying trend: in 2016 the murder of human rights defenders and community leaders increased for the fourth consecutive year, the vast majority in regions at the heart of the internal armed conflict. This reality, coupled with an overall uptick in all types of violence against these individuals in the form of targeted killings, threats, and intimidation, has led the international non-governmental organization “Frontline Defenders” to list Colombia as the most dangerous country for human rights defenders in the world. While authorities have implemented a series of measures to protect human rights defenders, in the vast majority of cases perpetrators have neither been identified nor convicted and questions remain about the lack of institutional capacity to address and curb this worrying trend.

3.2 Human Rights Provisions in the Peace Accords

According to the Government of Colombia, the entire peace agreement is rooted in a human rights-based approach, with the rights of victims at its centre, and its implementation and monitoring will be based on these principles including key impacts on human rights indicators (civil, economic and political rights).

The accords contain new areas of focus and include mechanisms that guarantee physical protection for human rights defenders and ensure their ability to conduct their work. With respect to political participation, the second point of the accords stipulates that adequate normative and institutional prevention, protection, evaluation and monitoring will take place to guarantee the security of leaders of political and social movements and human rights organizations. The accords state that “security guarantees are a necessary condition for consolidating the construction of peace and coexistence.” It also highlights the importance of civil society in the implementation of the plans and programs set forth by the accords.

The third point of the accords, “end of the conflict”, includes an agreement “to guarantee security by fighting criminal and other organizations responsible for homicides and massacres that target defenders, social and political movements, or who threaten persons that participate in the implementation of the accords and construction of peace.” This includes actions against “organizations referred to as successor paramilitary organizations and their support networks.” Several mechanisms will be developed to address this challenge. These include a National Commission to Guarantee the Dismantlement of Criminal Organizations, which will be responsible for preventing, investigating and responding to attacks against human rights defenders and social and political movements by paramilitary successor groups. It calls for the creation of a Special Investigation Unit to dismantle these criminal organizations and their networks, the integration of an Elite Corps within the National Police and an integral security system for policy development. Lastly, it sets forth basic guarantees for prosecutors, judges and other public servants involved in this fight.

Colombian and Canadian Economic Context

Actions taken in the context of the CCOFTA, also take place within the context of the Canadian and Colombian economies, and the greater context of the global economy. The following baseline economic information provides this context.

4.1 Global Economic Trends

The most noticeable global economic trend in recent years has been a slower-than-expected economic recovery from the financial crisis in 2008-2009 in most advanced economies and a continuing economic slowdown in emerging markets. The United States has emerged from the financial crisis and continues to lead growth among the advanced economies, but faces substantial headwinds from a slowing global economy and a strong dollar. Many emerging economies are experiencing a slowdown in growth. China in particular has seen its economic growth slow to less than 7 percent in 2015. This slowdown in the Chinese economy has been controlled and gradual, but its effects on global growth and commodities markets are nonetheless significant.

Commodity prices in 2016 were, on average, 10 percent lower than in January 2015, and 43 percent lower than in January 2014, with energy prices falling, on average, 12 percent from 2015 to 2016 and 54 percent since 2014. Low commodity prices, particularly oil prices, are a worldwide challenge for commodity producing countries such as Colombia. (See Annex 1.)

Parallel to the general global economic slowdown and decreasing commodity prices was a significant downturn in global trade, which grew less than 3 percent per year following the financial crisis of 2008-2009, compared to an average growth of 7 percent between 1990 and 2007. While, in the pre-financial crisis era, global trade growth consistently outperformed GDP growth, global trade is now growing less rapidly than GDP.

Low commodity prices had a significant impact on the exchange rate movements of major commodity exporting countries. Since 2012, the Canadian dollar has depreciated by 33 percent against the US dollar. Similarly, the value of the Colombian peso relative to the US dollar has depreciated by 70 percent over the same period.

These changes in the global economy have had profound implications for economic growth in Canada and Colombia as well as bilateral trade between our two countries.

4.2 Canadian Economy

Canada is ranked as the tenth largest economy in the world with GDP standing at US$1.53 trillion in 2016, or about five times that of the Colombian economy. With a population of 36.2 million, Canada’s per capita GDP in 2016 stood at US$42,238.

Canada is one of the most open economies in the world with few barriers to trade and investment and international goods trade accounting for 64.4 percent of its GDP in 2016. The United States is Canada’s largest trading partner with 76.4 percent of all Canadian merchandise exports destined to that market.

Services constitute a leading sector in the Canadian economy, making up 71 percent of Canada’s GDP in 2016 and employing 79 percent of the Canadian labour force. In the past decade, the share of services in Canada’s GDP increased steadily as the importance of other sectors in Canadian GDP declined.

The Canadian economy has been expanding at an average annual rate of 2.8 percent during the past decade, though it experienced a marked slowdown during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Due to a solid financial system and skilled labour force, Canada managed to recuperate all the loss in output experienced during the financial crisis. However, as a major commodity producer, Canada has been one of the hardest-hit developed economies by the impact of declining commodity prices in recent years. The energy sector, which accounted for one-fourth of total Canadian merchandise exports, was the most affected. Excluding the natural resources sector, Canada’s international exports experienced solid growth in the post-financial crisis era.

4.3 Colombian Economy

With a population of 48.2 million, Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico. Over the past decade, Colombia has experienced impressive economic growth as a result of pro-market economic policies, significant improvements in domestic security and strong trade growth. Total GDP surged from US$99.8 billion in 2000 to US$380 billion in 2013. However, this impressive decade of economic growth came to an end in 2015. Colombia’s GDP is estimated to have decreased from US$380 billion in 2013 to US$292 billion in 2015, resulting in a per capita GDP of US$6,059. This dramatic downturn in Colombia’s macroeconomic environment has broad implications for its economic activities and international trade in particular.

The Colombian economy depends heavily on exports of energy and agricultural commodities. It is the world’s second largest coffee producer after Brazil, and a major global supplier of cut flowers and bananas. Colombia’s aggressive promotion of free trade agreements in the recent decade has strengthened its international trade. Its merchandise exports to the rest of the world increased dramatically, to a recent peak of US$60.7 billion in 2012 from US$13.1 billion in 2000. Similarly, its imports from the rest of the world increased to US$45 billion in 2016 from US$11.5 billion in 2000. However, the significant downturn in world commodity prices and the economic slowdown have taken a toll on the Colombian economy. Colombian exports to the world dropped to US$31 billion in 2016, largely due to the decline in exports of mineral fuels and precious metals. Similarly, its imports from the rest of the world also experienced a significant downturn, down from US$54 billion in 2015 to US$45 billion in 2016.

4.4 Canada-Colombia Trade Relations

The Canada-Colombia Trade relationship is supported by the CCOFTA which entered into force on August 15, 2011. Canada and Colombia enjoy a strong trade relationship characterized by an almost equal balance of imports and exports. (See Figure 1 below.)

In 2016, bilateral merchandise trade between our two countries reached Can$1.57 billion representing a slight decline over previous years. However, bilateral merchandise trade has increased by approximately 16 percent overall since 2010, the year prior to the entry into force of the CCOFTA.

2016 figures can be attributed to a decline in the trade of energy-related products and lower commodity prices. Between 2015 and 2016, Canada’s imports from Colombia declined by 5 percent, dropping from Can$829 million to Can$788 million. This decrease was largely due to a decrease in imports of mineral fuels from Colombia of Can$53.2 million, which is more than the total import loss of Can$41.1 million. Nonetheless, Colombia ranked fifth among South American countries in terms of exports to Canada in 2016. In addition to mineral fuels and oils, imports from Colombia included coffee, spices and tea, live trees and plants (cut flowers), fruits (bananas) and plastics. On the other hand, between 2015 and 2016, Canada’s exports to Colombia increased by 0.1 percent from Can$783 million to Can$784 million, elevating Colombia to Canada’s second largest merchandise export destination in South America after Brazil. Canadian exports to Colombia included cereals (wheat), vehicles, machinery, vegetables (pulses), paper and paperboard and fertilizers.

Figure 1: Bilateral Trade between Canada and Colombia 2010-2016, Can$ million

Figure 1: Bilateral Trade between Canada and Colombia 2010-2016, US$ million, Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada’s calculations.

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations. Trade analysis for this section was conducted using Canadian dollars to minimize the impact of the fluctuating value of the Canadian dollar.

Actions Taken by Canada under the CCOFTA Implementation Act in 2016

The CCOFTA is consistent with Canada’s aims to enhance its economic interests in Colombia and to deepen its engagement with Latin American countries. It provides greater stability and predictability for Canadian exporters, service providers, and investors, including expanded opportunities in a broad range of sectors, particularly oil and gas, mining, agriculture and agri-food and manufacturing. The CCOFTA also reduces trade barriers to improve Canada and Colombia’s bilateral economic relationship by allowing both countries to increase their export potential and access new markets. Finally, the services and services-related provisions of the CCOFTA support exporters by encouraging stronger economic ties through the implementation of principles and conditions of regulatory transparency and stability.

The Implementation Act requires the Government of Canada to report on actions taken under the authority of the Implementation Act during the period under consideration. Since the entry into force of the CCOFTA on August 15, 2011, up to December 31, 2016, the actions taken under the Implementation Act have been tariff reductions related to the CCOFTA as well as actions taken under the Labour Cooperation Agreement and the Environment Agreement. For actions taken under the Labour Cooperation Agreement and the Environment Agreement, see Section 7.

5.1 Overview of Actions Taken under the CCOFTA Implementation Act in 2016

A summary of actions taken under the CCOFTA Implementation Act for the period covered by this report is provided in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Actions taken by Canada under the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Implementation Act
Clause NumberShort Description of ClauseActions taken by Canada for
Free Trade Agreement Implementation in 2016
1Short TitleNone
2-5InterpretationNone
6Crown bound by the legislationNone
7PurposeNone
8No cause of action except for investor-stateNone: no disputes to date
9-15Implementation of the CCOFTA, Labour Cooperation Agreement and Environment AgreementNone
16-22Inquiries under the Canadian International Trade Tribunal ActNone: no disputes to date
23Arbitration related to violations of the Investment chapter under the Commercial Arbitration ActNone: no disputes to date
24Compliance enforcement of the Labour Cooperation Agreement under the Crown Liability and Proceedings ActNone: no disputes to date
25-29Application of the Customs ActNone
30-42Changes to the Customs TariffReduction of customs duties on goods according to staging categories
43Monetary assessment relating to Labour Cooperation Agreement disputes under the Department of Employment and Social Development ActNone: no disputes to date
44-46Emergency action safeguard under the Export and Imports Permits ActNone: no disputes to date
47Governance of crown corporation under the Financial Administration ActNone
48Entry into force dateNone for purposes of the Annual Report exercise

5.2 Tariff Elimination Schedule

The tariff reductions implemented by Canada are undertaken in accordance with the Tariff Elimination Schedule of Canada of the CCOFTA.

Before the CCOFTA entered into force, 51.4 percent of Canada’s tariff lines were already duty-free on a WTO most-favoured nation basis. At the time the CCOFTA entered into force on August 15, 2011, an additional 45.2 percent of tariff lines became duty-free for Colombian exporters, and 2.1 percent of tariff lines were subject to tariff phase-out periods of 3, 7 and 17 years. Tariff lines subject to phase-out periods undergo partial tariff reductions on a yearly basis until they become duty-free. The remaining 1.3 percent of tariff lines was excluded from tariff elimination commitments under the CCOFTA.

Tariff reductions implemented by Canada during January 1, 2016-December 31, 2016 fall under two staging categories:

Staging Category C (7-year linear phase-out, with yearly tariff reductions, all tariffs to be removed by January 1, 2017); Examples of products covered by category C in Canada include various within-access supply management tariff lines, rubber gloves, certain textiles and ships.

Staging Category D17 (17-year linear phase-out, with yearly tariff reductions, all tariffs to be removed by January 1, 2025). Because of a transversal clause triggered by the entry into force of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement in 2012, this tariff line is now subject to accelerated tariff elimination and is being phased-out with yearly tariff reductions to be duty-free by 2025 instead of 2027 as prescribed under Staging Category D. There is only one tariff line being phased-out under staging category D17, which is a refined sugar line.

Table 2: Summary of the Tariff Elimination Schedule of Canada of the CCOFTA
Staging
Category
# Lines% Lines2008 Canadian
Imports
from Colombia
(US$, Mil)
2016 Canadian
Imports
from Colombia
(US$, Mil)
% 2008 Canadian Imports
from Colombia
% 2016 Canadian Imports
from Colombia
Product Examples
A
(Immediate duty-free)
813896.6%605.043784.5099.8%99.6%Fresh cut flowers, most textiles, apparel, furniture, industrial and electrical machinery
B
(3-year linear)
190.2%0.2010.4180.0%0.5%Spent fowl, some footwear (e.g., waterproof, sport, work boots, footwear with metal toe cap)
C
(7-year linear)
1561.9%0.1791.90.0%0.2%Within-access supply management tariff lines; rubber gloves, all other textiles (that are not in A), ships, furnishings made of textiles
D17
(17-year linear)
10.0%0.6550.8430.1%0.11%Refined sugar (tariff line 1701.99.00: refined, not containing added flavouring/colouring matter)
E (Excluded)1101.3%0.061000.0%0.0%Over-access supply management tariff lines (dairy, poultry and eggs) from tariff reduction; other refined sugar tariff items
Total8424100.0%606.141 100.0%  

Source: Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Tariff Elimination Schedule of Canada of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Global Trade Atlas, and Global Affairs Canada calculations

5.3 Tariff Reductions in 2016

As noted, the actions taken by Canada under the CCOFTA have been tariff reductions according to the Tariff Elimination Schedule of Canada of the CCOFTA. Upon entry into force of the CCOFTA in 2011, 96.6 percent of tariff lines were eliminated. This represented 99.8% of pre-CCOFTA import levels by Canada of Colombian goods and 99.6 percent of 2016 import levels. By 2016, only 1.1 percent of Canada’s tariff lines covered by the CCOFTA remained dutiable for imports from Colombia. On January 1, 2016, tariffs affecting sub-sectors such as furniture, textiles, agri-food, ships, boats and floating structures, were cut. Tariffs for these products (Staging Category C) were scheduled to be fully eliminated on January 1, 2017.

5.4 Future Tariff Reductions

By the end of 2016, only 97 tariff lines, representing 1.15 percent of total lines in Canada’s tariff schedule, were still in the process of being phased out. As of January 1, 2017, only one tariff line representing 0.01 percent of total lines covered by the CCOFTA will remain dutiable and will become duty-free on January 1, 2025. Given that the tariff reductions to be implemented on an annual basis from now until 2025 are minimal, the impact of these further tariff reductions on Canada’s bilateral trade with Colombia can also be expected to be minimal. To date, it has not been possible to draw a link between tariff reductions made by Canada under the CCOFTA and human rights abuses in Colombia.

Trade Gains under the CCOFTA

As shown in Annex 2, Canada and Colombia bilateral merchandise trade increased to Can$1.57 billion in 2016, an increase of approximately 16 percent over 2010 (the year prior to the entry into force of the CCOFTA). Overall, the CCOFTA has had a positive effect on Canada-Colombia bilateral trade.

This positive effect can also be demonstrated by a comparison between trade performance before and after the CCOFTA. In the following analysis, presented in Tables 3 and 4 below, the monthly trade statistics are first divided into the pre-CCOFTA period (January 2008 to December 2010) and post-CCOFTA period (January 2014 to December 2016) and then divided into five product categories. The product categories represent products that were duty-free prior to the implementation of the CCOFTA, products not liberalized, products with 0.1 to 5 percentage points tariff reductions, products with 5.1 to 10 percentage points tariff reductions, and products that had more than 10.0 percentage points tariff reductions. The average monthly changes between the pre-CCOFTA and the post-CCOFTA periods of these categories are then calculated to determine if trade has been enhanced. This simple demonstration does not control for any macroeconomic or other sector- and season-specific factors that potentially impact bilateral trade flows.

6.1 Canadian Exports to Colombia

Canada has experienced solid growth in its merchandise exports to Colombia since the CCOFTA entered into force in 2011.

Monthly average exports from Canada to Colombia increased from a pre-CCOFTA level of Can$52.2 million to the post-CCOFTA level of Can$67.9 million, representing an increase of 30 percent. As shown in Table 3, the majority of Canadian exports to Colombia were subject to duties in the pre-CCOFTA era. As a result, liberalization under the CCOFTA has facilitated greater Canadian exports to Colombia. Sectors that experienced tariff reductions, accounted for 97.8 percent of total export growth. Most trade growth came from the products with up to 5.0 percentage points of tariff reductions, which grew by Can$17.0 million.

Table 3: Monthly Averaged Canadian Exports to Colombia by the Extent of Tariff Reductions, Can$
Tariff ReductionsPre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016GrowthPercentage Change
Duty-Free Goods3,395,7183,625,782230,0656.8%
Exempted Goods14,723108,21193,488635.0%
0.1 – 5% Reductions22,031,36239,057,27817,025,91677.3%
5.1 – 10% Reductions12,946,61011,519,251-1,427,359-11.0%
Over 10% Reductions13,651,80913,375,959-275,850-2.0%
(No Match)160,062174,22814,1668.9%
Total52,200,28467,860,71015,660,42630.0%

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada’s calculations. Note: Sector figures do not add to the total due to the fact that some trade figures cannot match to tariff lines.

Canada’s export gains for the products that were already duty-free were dominated by exports of paper and paperboard. Other products that also experienced significant export gains included residues and waste from the food industries, live animals, animal or vegetable fats and oils, nuclear reactors and machinery, organic chemicals, vehicles, except railways, parts, and mineral fuels and oils. (See Annex 3.)

Products that received tariff reductions of 0.1 to 5.0 percentage points saw the largest increase in monthly average export gains. The top sectors to experience such export growth were cereals, motor vehicles and parts, fertilizers, optical and medical instruments, and inorganic chemicals. (See Annex 4.)

The top products with gains that had tariff reductions of 5.1 to 10.0 percentage points were pharmaceutical products, paper and paperboard, explosives and pyrotechnic products, pulp of wood and paper waste, and articles of stone, plaster, and cement (See Annex 5).

The dominant sectors that experienced gains in the over-10-percentage points of tariff reductions were edible vegetables, meat and edible meat offal, cosmetic and toilet preparations, grains, seeds, and fruits. (See Annex 6.)

6.2 Canadian Imports from Colombia

Colombia has experienced varying levels of merchandise exports to Canada following the implementation of CCOFTA with some years showing an increase and others a decrease. In 2016, Canadian merchandise imports from Colombia were valued at Can$788 million, making Colombia Canada’s fifth largest import source in South America.

Overall, on a monthly basis, average imports from Colombia decreased by 3.1 percent between the pre-CCOFTA level of Can$57.6 million and the post-CCOFTA level of Can$55.8 million. On the other hand, the utilization rates of the CCOFTA for Canadian imports from Colombia remained high with the products facing larger tariff reductions having higher utilization rates, indicating that importers are well aware of the tariff concessions offered by CCOFTA and they are taking advantage of what it offers. The total utilization rate for duty-free products was 3.5 percent; 15.3 percent for products with 0.1 to 5.0 percentage points of tariff reductions; 77.5 percent for the products with 5.1 to 10.0 percentage points of reductions; and 81.6 percent for the products with more than 10.0 percentage points of reductions.

It is important to note that more than 80% of all Canadian imports from Colombia were duty-free even before the entry into force of the CCOFTA. The products that gained the most under the duty-free category were coffee, tea and spices. (See Annex 8.)

Products under the category of 0.1 to 5.0 percentage points of tariff reductions that had the largest import gains were articles of stone, plaster and cement, sugars and sugar confectionery, and residues and waste from the food industries. (See Annex 9.)

Products under the category of 5.1 to 10.0 percentage points of tariff reductions that had the largest import gains were cocoa and cocoa preparations and preparations of vegetables, fruit, nuts or other parts of plants. (See Annex 10.) Utilization rates were quite high in this category, with many experiencing rates over 85 percent.

Products with over 10 percentage points of tariff reductions experienced the most gains in imports. Products that gained the most under this category included live trees and other plants, animal or vegetable fats and oils, articles of knitted apparel and clothing accessories, footwear, and textile articles. The utilization rates for these articles were all extremely high, with three of the five products experiencing utilization rates between 82 and 89 percent. (See Annex 11.)

Exempted products experienced declines in imports.

Table 4: Monthly Average Canadian Imports from Colombia by the Extent of Tariff Reductions, Can$
Tariff ReductionsPre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016GrowthPercentage ChangeUtilization Rate (%)*
Duty-Free Goods47,679,77946,156,395-1,523,384-3.2%3.5%
Exempted Goods586,968127,203-459,765-78.3%89.7%
0.1 – 5% Reductions120,52089,830-30,690-25.5%15.3%
5.1 – 10% Reductions6,636,1805,862,966-773,214-11.7%77.5%
Over 10% Reductions2,608,5163,578,290969,77437.2%81.6%
(No Match)-14,42714,427-75.2%
Total57,631,96355,829,111-1,802,852-3.1%16.7%

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations. Note: Sector figures do not add to the total due to the fact that some trade figures cannot match to tariff lines.

*The utilization rate is a measure that determines how widespread the use of CCOFTA is in bilateral trade between Canada and Colombia. It is calculated as the percentage of trade that takes advantage of the reduced tariffs of the CCOFTA.

6.3 Overall Impact of the CCOFTA on Trade Flows

The comparison of trade flows between the pre- and post-CCOFTA periods shows that the Canada-Colombia bilateral trade relationship has benefited from the agreement. Canadian exports to Colombia grew more quickly in the sectors that were liberalized, supporting the premise that reducing tariffs has a stimulatory impact on trade. On the other hand, while overall imports from Colombia saw a decrease, the utilization rates of the CCOFTA for these imports remained at very high levels and progressed with the extent of tariff concessions provided to Colombian products. This indicates that Canadian businesses adjusted well to the changing trading environment under the CCOFTA and are benefiting from the trade agreement. Without controlling for other non-free trade agreement influenced factors, the above simple data comparison is supportive of the view that the CCOFTA is working as intended.

Actions Taken by Canada under its Agreements on Labour Cooperation and Environment, and in Association with the CCOFTA

Both Canada and Colombia recognize that Colombia faces challenges in the area of human rights, including those that are in direct relation to the development of its economic activity. In order to support Colombia with its efforts to address these issues, Canada leverages various aspects of its bilateral engagement and programming tools including those found in the provisions of the two CCOFTA-related agreements on Labour Cooperation and Environment and also under special programming directly related to its free trade relationship with Colombia.

7.1 The Labour Cooperation Agreement

The Canada-Colombia Agreement on Labour Cooperation commits the parties to ensuring that their laws not only respect the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998), but also provide acceptable protections for occupational health and safety, hours of work, wages and migrant workers. The CCOFTA itself also includes a principles-based labour chapter.

Specifically, the Labour Cooperation Agreement commits both countries to:

Promote compliance with and effectively enforce their domestic labour laws through appropriate government actions. These laws must embody the following internationally recognized labour principles and rights:

  • freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining,
  • the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour,
  • the effective abolition of child labour,
  • the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation,
  • acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work and occupational health and safety, and
  • providing migrant workers with the same legal protections as citizens in regards to working conditions.

Ensure that they do not waive or otherwise derogate from their labour laws in a manner that weakens or reduces adherence to the internationally recognized labour principles as an encouragement for trade or investment.

Ensure that requests for labour inspections are given due consideration and that a person with a legally-recognized interest has appropriate access to proceedings before a tribunal which can enforce national labour law.

Make information publicly available in relation to their labour laws and enforcement and compliance procedures.

Encourage the use of voluntary best practices of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by enterprises.

The Labour Cooperation Agreement contains institutional mechanisms to ensure its effective implementation. These include a dispute resolution process to ensure compliance with the possibility of up to $15 million in fines for non-compliance in any one year. All monetary assessments would be paid into a cooperation fund to be expended in the territory of the party complained-against to address labour issues. The Labour Cooperation Agreement also provides for a Ministerial Council, comprised of Labour Ministers from both Canada and Colombia, that shall meet within the first year after its entry into force and thereafter, as necessary, in order to oversee its implementation.

Actions Taken under the Labour Cooperation Agreement

Projects: The provisions of the Labour Cooperation Agreement are complemented by concrete actions to address the labour situation in Colombia, notably through labour-related information sharing and technical assistance (TA). Since the coming into force of the Labour Cooperation Agreement, the Government of Canada, through the Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has focused on capacity building, project monitoring missions, and opportunities to foster relationships and encourage effective implementation. Since 2011, the Labour Program of ESDC has funded three labour-related TA projects in Colombia totaling approximately $950,000. For project details, see Annex 13.

Bilateral Dialogue: In addition to these projects, the Canadian and Colombian Ministries of Labour have maintained close relations and ongoing dialogue to advance the bilateral dialogue on implementation of the Labour Cooperation Agreement and issues of common interest, including proactive monitoring of Colombia’s labour situation. Three Ministerial Council meetings have taken place under the Labour Cooperation Agreement where Ministers reviewed progress and discussed labour-related TA programming in Colombia. Ministers also approved Plans of Action for cooperative labour activities and committed to sharing information in specific areas such as labour inspection, occupational health and safety, trade and labour, employment opportunities, labour statistics, migrant workers and child labour.

In addition to the Ministerial Council meetings, in January 2016, a bilateral meeting took place between the Canadian Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and the Colombian Minister of Labour on the margins of the Ministerial Meeting on Labour and Employment, hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France. Discussions included recent developments in Colombia’s OECD accession process as well as the post-conflict peace process.

In February 2016, as part of the Labour Program’s proactive monitoring of Colombia’s labour situation, Labour Program officials travelled to Colombia to meet with key stakeholders to learn more about the labour conditions, review progress of capacity building projects, and assess Colombia’s compliance with the Labour Cooperation Agreement. Discussions provided insights into the challenges encountered by Colombian workers in the exercise of their rights, in particular the rights to freely associate and bargain collectively.

Public Communications: The Labour Cooperation Agreement also allows for complaints, technically known as “Public Communications”, to be raised by citizens, enterprises or organizations, when they believe certain obligations of the Agreement have not been met.

In this context, the Canadian National Administrative Office (NAO), housed within the Labour Program and responsible for the review and management of complaints filed under Canada’s Labour Agreements, received a complaint in May 2016. The complaint (Public Communication CAN 2016-1), which was submitted by the Canadian Labour Congress and five Colombian labour organizations, alleged that the Government of Colombia had failed to comply with the obligations of the Agreement, particularly in the areas of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The complaint was accepted for review in July 2016.

As part of the review process, Canadian NAO officials travelled to Colombia on two occasions (August and September 2016) with a view to examining the allegations and learning first-hand from stakeholders involved in the complaint. The review process allowed NAO officials to identify prevalent and systemic labour issues such as the misuse of subcontracting, discriminatory anti-union practices and the climate of violence against trade unionists, which ultimately undermine the exercise of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights for Colombian workers.

Moving Forward: Ensuring the effective implementation of Canada’s labour agreements, including the Canada-Colombia Labour Cooperation Agreement, is a key priority. This is particularly important in view of the findings and recommendations of the report prepared by the Canadian NAO in response to the above-mentioned complaint, which was released in January 2017. The Labour Program will continue to work with Colombia to help address the issues and concerns identified in the report and, more broadly to ensure that concrete actions and measures are taken to guarantee the protection of fundamental labour rights.

7.2 The Environment Agreement

The Environment Agreement, signed in parallel to the CCOFTA, reinforces the concept that free trade should not take place at the expense of the environment. The CCOFTA itself also includes an environment chapter and environment provisions. The Canada-Colombia Environment Agreement commits both countries to encouraging high levels of domestic environmental protection, to fostering good environmental governance, to continuing to develop and improve their environmental laws and policies, and to promoting transparency and public participation. It requires each country to:

  • effectively enforce its domestic environmental laws through appropriate government actions;
  • neither weaken nor reduce levels of protection afforded in its domestic environment laws to encourage trade or investment;
  • ensure that proceedings are available to sanction or remedy violations of its environmental laws;
  • ensure that interested persons residing in or established in its territory may request investigations of alleged violations of its environmental laws, and to give such requests due consideration, in accordance with its law;
  • promote public awareness and transparency by ensuring that information regarding environmental laws and policies is available to the public;
  • ensure that environmental impact assessment processes are in place;
  • encourage the use of voluntary best practices of CSR by enterprises;
  • promote the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; and
  • respect, preserve, and maintain traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of Indigenous and local communities that contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, subject to national legislation.

The Environment Agreement commits both countries to make every attempt, through consultations and the exchange of information, with an emphasis on cooperation, to address any matter concerning the environment which may arise between them. If the countries fail to resolve the matter, one of them may seek consultations at the ministerial level.

Actions Taken under the Environment Agreement

Projects: With the goal of promoting high levels of environmental protection, the Canada-Colombia Environment Agreement also provides a framework within which to undertake environmental cooperation activities aimed at supporting the Environment Agreement’s objectives and obligations usually through technical exchanges and information sharing. Since the entry into force of the Environment Agreement in 2011, Environment and Climate Change Canada has funded a total of thirteen environmental projects in Colombia, and has contributed over $2.9 million in funding. In 2016, one project, Conservation of Biological Diversity, was ongoing under the Environment Agreement. For a description of all initiatives, see Annex 14. Funding for Latin American regional programming (which has also benefited Colombia) amounts to a total overtime of $7.8 million.

Bilateral Dialogue: With the goal of strengthening environmental governance, the Canada-Colombia Environment Agreement provides a framework within which to address key environmental issues of mutual interest to Canada and Colombia via the creation of a Committee on Environment. The Committee on Environment meets on an as-needed basis. The most recent meeting of the Committee on Environment took place on March 4, 2015 in Bogotá, Colombia. At this meeting, Canadian and Colombian officials reviewed the key commitments and institutional arrangements required under the Environment Agreement, undertook a policy dialogue on environmental priorities, reviewed cooperative work, and jointly began work on setting priorities for future cooperative activities. Canada and Colombia continue to jointly monitor implementation of the Environment Agreement.

7.3 The Canada-Americas Trade-Related Technical Assistance (CATRTA) Initiative

The Canada-Americas Trade-Related Technical Assistance (CATRTA) program was created to benefit countries in the Americas which have negotiated or are currently negotiating an FTA with Canada and are also countries of focus for Canada in terms of development assistance.

It is a seven-year, $17 million program funded by Global Affairs Canada and managed by the Conference Board of Canada which aims to assist our FTA partners to maximize the opportunities and benefits of their free trade agreements with Canada, including the side agreements on labour and the environment, and thereby contribute to the reduction of poverty and the promotion of sustainable development.

The initiative delivers trade-related technical assistance to government departments and agencies, private sector actors and civil society on FTA-related issues such as trade promotion, technical barriers to trade, trade facilitation, sanitary & phytosanitary issues, standards and regulations, labour, and environment.

Actions Taken under the CATRTA Initiative

As an FTA partner and country of focus for development assistance, Colombia has received significant support under the CATRA initiative to address some of its trade-related capacity needs. Some of this assistance was directly linked to the promotion and protection of human rights for vulnerable groups.

Projects: For example, capacity building has been provided for the development of gender sensitive policies and initiatives for the benefit of women entrepreneurs thereby contributing to a higher degree of gender equity. Another project aimed to assist Indigenous women artisans to produce, market and export their products through the transfer of business skills and knowledge. Other projects have sought to improve the protection of labour rights for migrant workers on large-scale projects in the mining and oil and gas sectors. See Annex 15 for a complete list of CATRTA projects with a human rights focus.

7.4 The Pacific Alliance Partnership

Canada is seen as a privileged partner of the Pacific Alliance – a regional trading bloc founded by Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico. Canada was the first non-Latin observer to the Pacific Alliance in 2012 and in 2016 became the only country to have signed a Joint Declaration on Partnership with the Pacific Alliance (“Partnership”).

In addition to having free trade agreements with all members of the Pacific Alliance, Canada also shares many values and objectives with the countries of the Pacific Alliance, such as trade liberalization, social inclusion, sustainable growth, and strengthening of the rule of law.

Actions Taken under the Pacific Alliance Partnership

In June 2016, Canada further strengthened its relationship with the Pacific Alliance by signing a Joint Declaration on Partnership between Canada and the Members of the Pacific Alliance.

Under the Partnership, Canada and the Members of the Pacific Alliance have outlined six broad areas for increased cooperation: trade facilitation and promotion; education and training; small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); science, technology and innovation; responsible natural resource development and corporate social responsibility; and environmental cooperation (including climate change and ocean conservation).

Projects: On June 29, 2016, Canada confirmed its commitment to the Partnership by announcing funding for three cooperation projects worth more than $21 million over 5 years. These projects will support the Pacific Alliance in its efforts towards becoming a more competitive and inclusive region and deepen our mutual commitment to a progressive and inclusive trade agenda. (See Annex 16 for project details.)

Bilateral Dialogue: Since the signing of the Partnership, Canada has made presentations to the Pacific Alliance’s Mining and SMEs Technical Groups in November and December 2016 respectively, where Canadian experiences were shared. Canada also provided ongoing updates to the three cooperation projects to the External Relations Technical Group in October 2016.

Consultations with Stakeholders

In accordance with the tenets of open and accountable government, we have continued to consult broadly in the preparation of this report. A public call for written submissions was issued welcoming submissions from Colombia and Canada. Public consultations were held during a four week period. Key stakeholders were contacted individually in advance of the launch of consultations in order to encourage participation in the consultation process. Consultations also included meetings with representatives of civil society.

8.1 Public Call for Submissions

On January 18, 2017, the Government of Canada issued a public call for submissions to inform the analysis of the report. (See Annex 17.) The public call for submissions was posted both on the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) website and the website of the Embassy of Canada to Colombia for a period of four weeks. Key stakeholders were contacted individually in advance of the launch of consultations in order to encourage participation in the consultation process. Four written submissions were received in response to the public call for submissions. In addition, comments were gathered through in-person meetings with members of civil society during the consultation period.

Consultations were well attended and GAC received high-quality submissions both through online and in-person consultations. Contributors were received from Canadian civil society groups with close ties to Colombian civil society and an interest in seeing a fair, just and prosperous democracy in Colombia. These groups have worked closely with communities in Colombia for many years providing relief and development assistance. They continue to monitor the human rights situation in Colombia through regular exchanges and in-country visits.

Submissions received through the public consultation process for this year’s report fell into two broad categories: 1) comments regarding the Annual Report itself and Canada’s approach to CSR; and 2) comments regarding the overall human rights situation in Colombia. No comments received referred specifically to any perceived impact of the CCOFTA on human rights in Colombia. Despite being outside the mandate of this report, comments on broader human rights issues in Colombia are reflected in the summary of input received due to their importance.

8.2 Thematic Summaries of Input Received

a) Scope and Methodology of the Annual Report

Several submissions urged the Government of Canada to make changes to the report’s scope and methodology to better represent the spirit in which it was first proposed. That is to ensure that business would not be conducted at the expense of, or without regard to, human rights.

Given that the CCOFTA is the only free trade agreement to which Canada is a party that includes such a provision, civil society sees this as an opportunity to set a constructive precedent in terms of due diligence with regard to trade and investment treaties. They argue that by failing to consider the impacts of corporate investment promoted through the CCOFTA, the exercise prevents a thorough and transparent assessment of the impacts of the CCOFTA on the human rights situation in Colombia and does not serve the needs of all stakeholders, including Canadian companies investing in Colombia, for accurate and comprehensive information.

It was recommended that the scope of the Annual Report be amended to include a comprehensive human rights impact assessment (HRIA) conducted by independent researchers that complies with UN benchmarks and assesses key sectors, including resource extraction and the operations of Canadian investors in Colombia, as was understood to be recommended by the Standing Committee on International Trade (CIIT) in their June 2008 report “Human Rights, The Environment and Free Trade with Colombia”. It was also recommended that a full discussion of the Annual Report be conducted in Parliament and by appropriate committees, complete with witness testimony and debate from both countries.

b) Corporate Social Responsibility and Due Diligence

Submissions were received urging the Government of Canada to take proactive steps to ensure that Canadian-based companies investing in Colombia are well-informed of their duties under international laws particularly with regard to obtaining free, prior and informed consent to operate on land belonging to Indigenous groups and the expectations of the Government of Canada under its CSR Strategy.

In addition, the Government of Canada was urged to make support for corporate activities in Canada and internationally (assistance, loans and/or political and diplomatic support) contingent upon company actions being consistent with international human rights standards with respect to the rights of Indigenous peoples, including the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

Submissions were received calling for Canada to strengthen its corporate accountability for human rights by establishing an Independent Extractive Sector Ombudsperson; legislating a right of access to Canadian courts in cases alleging human rights violations and abuses associated with overseas operations of Canadian extractive companies; and adopting a National Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

c) Canadian Support for Labour Rights in Colombia

Labour rights continue to be a concern. Submissions called for Canada to urge Colombia to adhere to the international conventions it has ratified, such as the ILO conventions on freedom of association and the right to strike. In addition, it was recommended that a priority be placed on the effective implementation of Canada’s labour agreements, including the Canada-Colombia Labour Cooperation Agreement. It was also recommended that the Government of Canada support the recommendations of the “Review of Public Communication CAN 2016-1” which was issued by the Canadian National Administration Office (NAO) on January 25, 2017 and therefore falls outside the timeframe covered by this report.

d) Human Rights in the Context of the Peace Agreement

Contributors expressed their hope that the signing of a peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC, as well as current negotiations with the ELN, will initiate a process leading to peace and social justice for all Colombians. At the same time, civil society groups remain deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights situation in Colombia.

On December 2, 2016, following a visit to Colombia, Inter Pares and other civil society organizations released an open statement expressing deep concern about the violent actions perpetrated against social leaders after the bilateral cease-fire was declared by the Government of Colombia and the FARC on August 26, 2016. (See Annex 18.) Concern for the sustainability of the implementation of the peace agreements was expressed in a context where the common thread connecting many of those targeted in attacks was their involvement in the peace process through rural grassroots movements, campesino (rural farming) associations, land restitution projects and peace education.

e) Ongoing Human Rights Concerns in 2016

Submissions expressed concern about ongoing human rights issues in Colombia and concern that serious human rights violations and abuses continued even after the declared ceasefire of August 26, 2016. Amnesty International’s Annual Country Report for Colombia provides a summary of the main human rights issues that continue to be of concern in Colombia.

Despite a significant decrease in reports of threats, attacks, arbitrary detention and harassment against human rights defenders in 2015, labour leaders, trade unionists, community groups and other human rights defenders continued to be the target of threats and murders. As referenced in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) press release of November 2, 2016, “IACHR Condemns the Increase in Killings of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia”, there was an increase in the number of killings of human rights defenders in 2016, with peasant farmers, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian community leaders being particularly vulnerable to this type of violence. Submissions also pointed out the notable gender dimensions to this crisis, with sexualized violence against women widespread and ongoing.

A report published by the Human Rights Commission of the Colombian civil society organization “Cumbre Agraria Campesina, Étnica y Popular”, claims 94 homicides took place in 2016, which is an increase of 31 over 2015 and the highest number in the last 6 years.

Colombia’s Indigenous populations continued to be singled out as being particularly vulnerable to the point of being “threatened with physical and cultural extermination”, according to the Constitutional Court of Colombia, as a consequence of violence, forced displacement and the imposition of economic projects on their lands without their free, prior and informed consent. It is widely agreed that the number of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian people forcibly displaced from their homes and lands is disproportionate.

Paramilitary and neo-paramilitary groups are blamed for the majority of these abuses. Submissions included first-hand reports of the resurgence in paramilitary groups, including in areas now abandoned by guerrilla armies, and an associated increase in attacks against human rights defenders, social leaders and members of political movements.

Submissions also indicated that impunity remains a major issue and that the Colombian state continues to fail to bring to justice the vast majority of those suspected of individual criminal responsibility for crimes under international law. Problems cited were the improper functioning of complaint mechanisms, fundamental issues with the justice system, new legislation that threatens to aggravate the situation and the role of the military justice system in closing investigations into alleged human rights violations by members of the security forces before they are concluded. Doubts also remain over whether the peace agreement would ensure that all those suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes would be held accountable in line with international law.

8.4 Consultations with Provinces and Territories

The Government of Canada consulted with provincial and territorial governments with regard to whether any of their respective human rights commissions (or equivalent bodies) had raised or received any comments, questions or expressions of concern, regarding effects on human rights in Canada regarding Canada’s tariff reductions under the CCOFTA during the period January 1, 2016–December 31, 2016. The Government of Canada received feedback from a total of twelve provinces and territories indicating that none of their human rights commissions (or equivalent bodies) had raised or received any such comment or expression of concern. Since the entry into force of the CCOFTA on August 15, 2011, no concerns have ever been registered via these mechanisms.

8.5 Summary of Consultations with Stakeholders

The public consultations process we conducted revealed a variety of serious and ongoing concerns regarding broader human rights issues in Colombia, but also concerns regarding the scope of the annual report itself, as well as concerns about the Government of Canada’s overall approach to business and human rights.

While the purpose of this report is specifically to analyze the impact on human rights of actions taken under the CCOFTA Implementation Act, and while many of the comments received via the consultation process regard concerns that fall outside the scope of this report, they have nonetheless been summarized here in acknowledgment of their importance.

The government of Canada has a multifaceted relationship with Colombia which goes beyond strengthening commercial relations to include support for the ongoing peace process, and programming in support of human rights and fundamental labour rights.

9. Government of Canada Programming, Advocacy, and Capacity Building Activities for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Colombia

The Government of Canada takes a whole of government approach to its bilateral relations with Colombia through its political, consular, commercial, development and peace and security programming. In recognition of the challenges that Colombia faces in the area of human rights and in order to support Colombia in its efforts to address these issues, Canada leverages various aspects of its bilateral engagement and programming tools via its political, development and commercial programming in Colombia.

9.1 Canadian Advocacy and Engagement on Human Rights in Colombia

Canada plays a leading role within the international community in Colombia regarding the promotion and protection of human rights.

In addition to $110 million in programming aimed at improving human rights conditions in Colombia since 2003, Global Affairs Canada holds regular human rights consultations with the Government of Colombia as part of its broader bilateral consultations. Canada also regularly engages with Colombian civil society organizations, human rights defenders, unions, journalists, women’s organizations, international humanitarian agencies, UN agencies and government bodies. Canada has raised concerns with the Government of Colombia regarding vulnerable populations and specific cases of imminent threat against members of civil society organizations, so that corrective action can be taken. Where appropriate, Canada acknowledges the improvements in human rights and security resulting from initiatives undertaken by the Government of Colombia.

Since 2015, alongside the Embassy of the Netherlands to Colombia, Canada has chaired the G24 Sub-Committee on Human Rights as well as the broader framework of the Donors’ Group (Grupo de Cooperantes, or GRUC) made up of foreign embassies and multilateral organizations which provide international assistance to Colombia. The Sub-Committee meets on a regular basis to discuss collective action on a number of issues, such as Indigenous and minority rights, meets with Colombian civil society and government officials, and coordinates efforts to raise cases of human rights defenders with Colombian authorities.

Among other thematic priorities including business and human rights; ethnic minorities and economic, social and cultural rights; labour rights; and children’s rights in the post-conflict environment; the Sub-Committee gave particular focus in 2016 to discussing the situation of human rights defenders and engaging with the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia, the Presidential Counsellor for Human Rights, as well as other government officials, including at the local level, to address specific cases of threats to, and killings of, human rights defenders. Canada is also actively promoting the protection of women’s rights and gender equality in Colombia in its capacity as Chair of the International Cooperation Gender Roundtable for 2016-2017.

Supporting the legitimate work of human rights defenders is an integral part of the human rights work undertaken by the Embassy of Canada to Colombia. Embassy representatives meet regularly with human rights officials such as the Presidential Counsellor on Human Rights, the Representative of the Colombian Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Human Rights Ombudsperson (Defensor del Pueblo), in addition to numerous civil society organizations. Additionally, since July 2009, Canada and Colombia have held regular bilateral political and human rights consultations where the conditions of vulnerable groups and populations at risk are discussed.

In 2016, in addition to meeting with threatened individuals and groups in Colombia, Canadian officials made frequent visits to regions most affected by the conflict. These visits, often in the company of representatives of the United Nations, the Peace Process Support Mission of the OAS, as well as other agencies and foreign embassies, enable officials to meet with local government and security authorities, civil society organizations, rural communities including women, Indigenous and Afro-Colombians, regional human rights ombudspersons and members of international non governmental organizations active in the field.

Through such visits, the Government of Canada is able to gain first hand knowledge of the complicated situation in these regions, monitor the progress of investigations, and bring greater awareness and transparency to these situations. Canada recognizes the considerable progress made by the Colombian government with respect to human rights, but it is clear that much work remains to be done, particularly in those regions in the post-conflict context where a meaningful state presence has been historically weak due to the internal armed conflict. These regions are vulnerable to threats and violence from a range of actors, as is documented by the Colombian Office of the OHCHR in its annual reporting. In a spirit of constructive cooperation, Government of Canada officials will continue to raise human rights issues with the Government of Colombia at all levels, including with ministries with responsibilities relating to trade, to discuss ways to effectively implement recommendations and findings from the international human rights system and to uphold international human rights obligations, particularly as the country works to implement an ambitious, historic, and multi-faceted post-conflict peacebuilding implementation plan.

Of particular interest is Canada’s participation in an initiative called Embajadores con Defensores (Ambassadors with Defenders), an initiative aimed at bringing attention to specific situations and cases where human rights defenders are at risk. As part of this initiative, Canada and Sweden’s Ambassadors visited Villavicencio in 2016, and other ambassadors have visited several other communities. In June 2016, Canada together with the Embassy of the Netherlands met with the Attorney-General, to discuss human rights defenders. An editorial on the initiative, organized by the Embassy of Canada, was published in one of Colombia’s major newspapers on December 20th, 2016, and signed by eight embassies. (See Annex 20.)

Canada will continue to play a leading role within the international community in Colombia regarding the promotion and protection of human rights. It will continue to pursue the above-mentioned activities in order to monitor the human rights situation in the post-conflict context, particularly in remote areas where Canadian companies are located.

9.2 Canada’s Support for the Peace Process

Canada provided concrete and direct support to the peace process in 2016, committing over $78 million in funding for peacebuilding efforts in Colombia.

In July 2016, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and the Francophonie, travelled to Colombia and announced five new development projects valued at $57.4 million to support Colombia’s peace efforts, focussing on humanitarian demining, child protection, credit for farmers and rural education in areas affected by the conflict, which also included a $20 million contribution to the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Post-Conflict in Colombia.

Subsequently, then-Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Stéphane Dion, travelled to Colombia in September 2016 to witness the signing of the peace agreement, and announced an additional $21 million over 3 years from the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) to fund peace implementation projects, such as police reform, military mine action, protection by the Organization of American States’ Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (OAS-MAPP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of communities in areas vacated by armed groups and support to transitional justice and post-conflict implementation institutions.

Canada’s Department of National Defence and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have delivered training to the Colombian military and police officers to enhance their ability to participate in UN Peacekeeping Missions abroad, a priority as part of their transition into their peacetime roles. This training not only allows for the Colombian military and police to participate in UN missions but also helps improve their ability to conduct their duties in Colombia and pass their newly gained knowledge to other colleagues in the units further improving the respective forces strength and skill level.

In 2016, Canada began the process for deploying two Canadian police officers to Colombia to participate in the UN Political Mission, which is providing observers for the demobilization and disarmament phase of the peace process. The bilateral deployment, which will still need to be negotiated with the Government of Colombia, may provide training, mentorship and advice to the Colombian National Police in support of their post-conflict policing priorities.

9.3 Canada’s International Assistance to Colombia

Canada is an important donor in Colombia contributing to projects which support Colombia’s efforts to reduce poverty and inequality, improve human rights and security, and build a lasting peace.

Canada’s total official international assistance to Colombia since 2011 amounts to $240 million. Assistance is delivered via civil society, multilateral, private sector and government partners. Programming is provided through mechanisms such as the Global Affairs Canada’s Bilateral Development Program, the International Humanitarian Assistance Program, Partnerships for Development Innovation, the Inter-American Program, the International Development Research Centre, the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), and the Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF)/Peace Stabilization and Operations Program (PSOP).

Canada and Colombia share over 40 years of collaborative engagement on development cooperation. Colombia is a priority country for Canadian development funding and Canada’s bilateral development programming in Colombia is significant. In fact, according to Colombian figures, Canada is Colombia’s fourth largest development donor after the US, the EU and Germany.

Since 2011, Canada has contributed $133 million to Colombia via its bilateral development programming. Canada’s development programming in Colombia prioritizes three areas: 1) creating economic opportunities for poor and vulnerable groups via supporting sustainable rural development, youth employment and entrepreneurship and improved natural resources governance; 2) protecting the rights of Colombia’s most vulnerable groups (especially children, Afro-Colombians) by improving access to quality education and protection services, and 3) supporting the Government of Colombia’s peace building efforts via rapid response initiatives in conflict-affected areas and demining activities. Canada has traditionally been an important partner in addressing the protection needs of internally displaced persons, working closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (See Annex 19 for selected examples of development programming.)

In the last six years, Canada has contributed approximately $29 million to Colombia through its International Humanitarian Assistance program, in response to the annual appeals of humanitarian organizations. This support responds to conflict-related needs and to natural disasters.

Through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, Canada also supports local development assistance initiatives in Colombia, mostly aimed at promoting human rights (particularly those of Indigenous peoples and LGBTI groups) governance and democracy.

The Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START), its Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF) and its successor arrangement Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP), have provided over $28.5 million in funding to peace and security initiatives in Colombia since 2011. Canada’s GPSF engagement in Colombia has provided critical support to local civil society, multilateral and government partners working on issues including transitional justice, conflict prevention, police reform, human rights, land restitution, landmine clearance, support to the peace process and preparations for post-conflict following comprehensive peace accords with Colombia’s armed insurgencies.

Since 2011, Canada has also provided $49 million in official development assistance via other channels such as the International Development Research Centre, multi-country initiatives via multilateral and non-governmental organizations, and other government departments.

Bilateral development programming is also leveraged to address issues of a cross-cutting nature that affect human rights, as well as labour rights, poverty reduction, economic diversification and corporate social responsibility through collaboration with other Government of Canada programming in Colombia as well as the private sector.

9.4 Canada’s Support for Corporate Social Responsibility in Colombia

Canada’s CSR Strategy sets clear expectations for Canadian companies to respect human rights, operate within all applicable laws and international standards and operate transparently and in consultation with host governments and local communities. Canada’s CSR Strategy also outlines the Government of Canada’s initiatives to help Canadian companies strengthen their CSR practices and maximize the benefits their investments can provide to those in host countries.

The Strategy, Doing Business the Canadian Way: A Strategy to Advance Corporate Social Responsibility in Canada’s Extractive Sector Abroad, is built on advancing widely-recognized international CSR standards while fostering networks and partnerships with stakeholders and helping resolve differences between Canadian extractive sector companies and those affected by their operations abroad.

Two dispute resolution mechanisms exist. The first is housed in Canada’s National Contact Point (NCP), established in the year 2000 as part of Canada’s commitment to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on responsible business conduct and applies to all sectors. The second is the Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor, established as part of Canada’s CSR Strategy with an emphasis placed on early dialogue and providing advice on CSR best practices for companies and communities to address issues before they have a chance to escalate. It is important to note that Canada is the only known country to link the provision of trade advocacy and economic support in foreign markets for its companies to their constructive engagement with its dispute resolution mechanisms when concerns about their operations abroad are brought forward.

In Colombia specifically, the Government of Canada via the Embassy of Canada to Colombia, engages the Government of Colombia and Canadian extractive sector companies in a variety of initiatives to provide support for responsible natural resource development. Such initiatives are often carried out in collaboration with Canadian partners such as provinces and territories, universities and other government departments. Initiatives have included knowledge transfer of models, best practices and expertise between Colombian and international entities.

In March 2016 on the margins of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention, Natural Resources Canada and Colombia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy signed the Framework for Cooperation in Natural Resources which covers the areas of oil and gas, mining, clean energy technologies and earth sciences. The Framework is focused on resource governance capacity building and promoting trade and investment, and is designed to enhance the investment climate for extractives in Colombia. Effective resource governance is a contributing factor in providing a safe work environment.

In October 2016, the Embassy of Canada to Colombia organized a human rights-focused CSR workshop in collaboration with Ministry of Mines and Energy of Colombia, Colombia's National Mining Agency (ANM), and the Colombian Mining Association (ACM). The event, co-funded by the trade and development programs of the embassy, reached an audience of approximately 60 participants from both the public and private sectors in Colombia.

In December 2016, officials from the Embassy of Canada to Colombia participated in a regional workshop hosted by the Government of Colombia and the OECD to exchange best practices around mineral supply chains in Latin America. The workshop provided participants with an opportunity to learn about international standards and national regulations with regard to responsible mineral supply chains and relevant market expectations, with a focus on responsible gold mining.

9.5 Canada’s International Collaboration with Colombia on Corporate Social Responsibility

Internationally, Canada is engaged in a range of multi-stakeholder initiatives to actively promote international standards, guidelines, and best practices with the objective of increasing effective governance in resource-rich developing countries and enabling communities to maximize benefits from natural resources development while respecting human rights.

Canada and Colombia are active and collaborate in the following international Corporate Social Responsibility forums:

The OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises are recommendations addressed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from adhering countries which provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct in a variety of areas including employment and industrial relations, human rights, environment, information disclosure, competition, taxation, and science and technology. Adhering governments have an obligation to set up and maintain a National Contact Point (NCP). NCPs are the only governmental, non-judicial grievance mechanism providing access to remedy to stakeholders wishing to raise issues related to operations of companies operating in or from adhering countries. Canada was instrumental in supporting Colombia in setting up its NCP, which was officially launched in June 2012.

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative (VPI) is a multi-stakeholder initiative that oversees the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), a set of principles designed to help extractive sector actors anticipate and mitigate risks related to the deployment of public and private security, such that operations can be protected without excessive force or human rights abuses. The Government of Colombia, like Canada, has been a member of the VPI since 2009.

The Government of Canada assumed the Chair of the VPI for a second time in April 2016, which provided an opportunity to advance new and innovative approaches to implementation of the VPs and enhancement of the VPI, including through the development of a Value Proposition for the VPI that expresses the continued and increasing value of membership in the VPI.

In 2016, Canada collaborated closely with Colombia on issues related to the VPI including participation in sessions promoting the implementation of the VPs in Colombia and engaging Canadian companies in the extractive sector operating in Colombia. Notably, officials from the Embassy of Canada to Colombia, actively participate in the Comité Minero Energetico (CME), a Colombian initiative which brings together the private sector, civil society and the government, aimed at encouraging membership and implementation of the VPs at the local level.

In 2016, a multi-stakeholder working group of companies, governments, civil society organizations and expert consultants came together to bring focus to children as a vulnerable stakeholder group in relation to extractive sector security-related impacts. As members of the working group, the Governments of Canada and Colombia collaborated on the development of a Child Rights and Security Checklist.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a multi-stakeholder initiative to support improved governance in resource-rich countries through the verification and full publication of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas, and mining. Colombia is a candidate country under the EITI and has received funding to improve its regulatory frameworks and technical, environmental and social standards for undertaking transparent and nondiscretionary competitive tenders in strategic mineral reserve areas. Canada is a donor to the World Bank’s Extractive Global Programmatic Support (EGPS), which supports EITI implementation and natural resources governance. Colombia’s participation in the EITI process will improve the Government’s transparency, which is needed both for OECD accession and the peace process. The “Building Extractive Sector Governance” development project will also help to address recommendations of the EITI process by working to improve multi-stakeholder collaboration and increase transparency. (See Annex 19.)

The Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) brings together mining officials in developing countries, trading partners and donors, in addition to civil society organizations and mining companies, to discuss and advance issues of mutual concern, such as international standards and best practices in extractive sector management and governance. Canada has encouraged Colombia to join the IGF and supported Colombia’s participation at the 2015 IGF Annual General Meeting. While Colombia did not attend the 2016 IGF Annual General Meeting, Canada continues to encourage Colombian engagement in the forum.

The Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Transparency Trust Fund (TTF) provides assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean countries, including Colombia, which are committed to strengthening the governance of their extractive industries and to ensuring that the resulting economic growth tangibly benefits entire communities. Canada’s financial contribution to the TTF leverages the Fund’s four strategic priority areas: the strengthening of audit and control systems; financial integrity; open government initiatives; and natural resource governance. To date, technical cooperation projects have included the reinforcement of Colombia’s mining and housing sectors and the raising of transparency standards of its financial institutions.

10. Summary of Findings

The Government of Canada takes a whole of government approach to its bilateral relations with Colombia through its political, consular, commercial, development, and peace and security programming. The CCOFTA and its side agreements join a range of actions including this report, advocacy, and bilateral and development cooperation, through which Canada supports Colombia’s ongoing efforts towards greater peace, security, prosperity and respect for human rights.

The purpose of this annual report is to summarize the actions taken by the Government of Canada under the authority of the Implementation Act (including the CCOFTA, the Labour Cooperation and Environment Agreements) during the previous calendar year, and to review how these actions have impacted human rights in Canada and Colombia. This report is required to cover actions taken during the 2016 calendar year that fall within its scope. In reviewing how actions taken in the context of the CCOFTA impact human rights in Canada and Colombia, it is important to consider the context, political and economic, in which these actions are taken.

2016 was a landmark year for Colombia, culminating in the signing of a much-anticipated peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC which brings an end to over 50 years of internal armed conflict. The prospect of peace in Colombia is a major geo-political development and a lasting peace will provide the foundation necessary for a more secure and prosperous Colombia, and an improvement in the human rights situation for all Colombians. At this crucial time in Colombia’s history and the history of the region, Canada is committed to supporting Colombia in the successful implementation of the Peace Accords. In 2016, Canada provided concrete and direct support to Colombia in support of the peace process.

In 2016, Canada also made important progress in the area of human rights. For example, it expanded its comprehensive approach to defending and promoting human rights through the creation of the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion within Global Affairs Canada. Canada also announced its full support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its intention to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian constitution. In addition, Canada has changed the way it engages on human rights abroad, developing guidelines for supporting human rights defenders and including human rights, freedoms and inclusion in the fundamental objectives for Canadian heads of mission abroad.

Canada enjoys a multifaceted relationship with Colombia, which, in addition to an open dialogue on human rights, longstanding development cooperation, support for Colombia’s justice, security and peace-building efforts and cooperation on multilateral issues, also includes close economic ties.

The CCOFTA is consistent with Canada’s aims to enhance its economic interests in Colombia and the region, through providing greater stability and predictability for Canadian exporters, service providers, and investors; reducing trade barriers to improve bilateral trade between our countries; and encouraging stronger economic ties through the implementation of principles and conditions of regulatory transparency and stability. In 2016, additional advances were made in deepening Canada’s economic relationship with Colombia and the region via the signing of the Joint Declaration on Partnership with the Pacific Alliance, of which Colombia is a founding member, and the signing of a Framework for Cooperation in Natural Resources between Natural Resources Canada and the Colombian Ministry of Mines.

The actions taken by Canada under the CCOFTA since its inception up until December 31, 2016, have consisted of tariff reduction and elimination according to the Tariff Elimination Schedule of Canada of the CCOFTA and actions taken under the Labour Cooperation Agreement and the Environment Agreement.

In 2016, according to the Tariff Elimination Schedule tariffs affecting sub-sectors such as furniture, textiles, agri-food, ships, boats and floating structures, were cut. These tariff reductions represented 1.09% of the total lines covered under the CCOFTA. As of December 31, 2016, only one tariff line representing 0.01% of the total lines covered by the CCOFTA remained on imports from Colombia. As such, by the end of 2016, nearly all of the total tariffs to be eliminated under the CCOFTA had been eliminated.

Actions taken in the context of the CCOFTA, occur within the context of the Canadian and Colombian economies, and the greater context of the global economy. Over the past decade, Colombia has experienced impressive economic growth as a result of pro-market economic policies, significant improvements in domestic security and strong trade growth. However, 2015 saw a marked decrease in trade due to lower commodity prices and a decrease in the trade of energy-related products. This dramatic downturn in Colombia’s macroeconomic environment has broad implications for its economic activities and international trade in particular.

Overall, tariff reductions under the CCOFTA have resulted in increased Canada-Colombia trade performance, demonstrated by the 16% increase in bilateral merchandise trade between 2010, the year prior to the coming into force of the CCOFTA, and 2016. Although trade with Colombia slowed slightly in 2016, Canadian exports to Colombia have increased overall since the implementation of the CCOFTA and Colombia has consistently ranked among Canada’s top export destinations in South America. In fact, despite the slowdown in trade, in 2016, Colombia was Canada’s second largest export destination in South America after Brazil. While Colombian exports to Canada have shown increases in some years and decreases in others, following the implementation of CCOFTA, the data on utilization rates of tariff lines by Colombian exporters demonstrates that Colombian exporters are taking advantage of what the CCOFTA offers. Sectors which saw the highest rate of utilization by Colombian exporters were those sectors which had experienced the greatest tariff reductions, further indicating the benefit of the CCOFTA for Colombian exports to Canada. In terms of trade liberalization, it can be concluded that the CCOFTA is working as intended and providing increased economic opportunities for both Canadian and Colombian exporters.

Actions have also been taken under the CCOFTA’s side agreements on labour cooperation and the environment which have included both bilateral dialogue and funding activities to strengthen Colombia’s capacity in these two areas.

Since the entry into force of the Labour Cooperation Agreement in 2011, the Government of Canada, through the Labour Program of ESDC has focused on capacity building projects, project monitoring missions, and identifying opportunities to foster relationships and encourage effective implementation of the agreement. As of December 31, 2016, Canada had funded three labour-related technical assistance projects under the Labour Cooperation Agreement totalling nearly $950,000. In addition to these projects, the Canadian and Colombian Ministries of Labour have maintained ongoing dialogue to advance implementation of the Labour Cooperation Agreement and issues of common interest, including proactive monitoring of Colombia’s labour situation. In response to a complaint received under the agreement in May 2016, Canada’s National Administration Office, undertook two fact-finding missions to Colombia in 2016, as per its obligations under the agreement, and undertook to prepare a report of its findings and recommendations for release in early 2017. Ensuring the effective implementation of its labour agreements, including the Canada-Colombia Labour Cooperation Agreement, is a key priority for Canada. The Labour Program will continue to work with Colombia to ensure that concrete actions and measures are taken to guarantee the protection of fundamental labour rights.

Under the Environment Agreement, Canada has funded environmental cooperation activities aimed at strengthening environmental governance and addressing key environmental issues of mutual interest to Canada and Colombia. These activities have promoted high levels of environmental protection mainly through technical exchanges and information sharing. Under the Environment Agreement, Canada has funded environmental projects in Colombia totalling over $2.9 million.

Since its entry into force, actions taken under the CCOFTA appear to have had an overall positive impact, increasing Canada-Colombia trade performance and providing support for capacity building related to environmental governance and improved labour practices in Colombia. As noted in previous annual reports, it is not possible to demonstrate that the actions taken in the implementation of the CCOFTA have had a direct impact on human rights in Canada or Colombia.

Both Canada and Colombia recognize that Colombia faces significant challenges in the area of human rights. Colombia, in spite of its challenges, is a country with shared values of democracy and transparency that is working to strengthen its human rights and rule of law institutions. To support Colombia in its efforts to address these issues, the Government of Canada takes a whole of government approach to its bilateral relations with Colombia, leveraging various aspects of its bilateral engagement and programming tools via its political, development, commercial, and peace and security programming in Colombia.

Canada plays a leading role within the international community in Colombia regarding the promotion and protection of human rights. In addition to funding some $110 million in programming aimed at improving human rights conditions in Colombia since 2003, Global Affairs Canada also holds regular human rights consultations with the Government of Colombia as part of its broader bilateral consultations.

Officials at the Embassy of Canada to Colombia regularly engage with Colombian civil society organizations, human rights defenders, unions, journalists, women’s organizations, international humanitarian agencies, UN agencies and government bodies. Canada has raised concerns with the Government of Colombia regarding vulnerable populations and specific cases of imminent threat against members of civil society organizations, so that corrective action can be taken. Of particular interest is Canada’s participation since 2016 in Embajadores con Defensores (Ambassadors with Defenders), an initiative aimed at bringing attention to specific situations and cases where human rights defenders are being threatened or are at risk.  As part of this initiative, in June 2016, Canada, together with the Netherlands, met with the Attorney-General, to discuss human rights defenders. An editorial on the initiative, organized by the Embassy of Canada and signed by eight embassies, was published in a major Colombian newspaper in December 2016. (See Annex 20.) Where appropriate, Canada acknowledges the improvements in human rights and security resulting from initiatives undertaken by the Government of Colombia. In addition, Canada co-chairs a donor group on human rights which meets with civil society and coordinates action and engagement on related issues.

Canada also has substantial development, peace and security program activities aimed at improving the human rights situation in Colombia. Canada is an important donor in Colombia contributing a total $240 million in official international assistance since 2011. Programming is provided through mechanisms such as Global Affairs Canada’s Bilateral Development Program, the International Humanitarian Assistance Program, the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), and the Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF)/Peace Stabilization and Operations Program (PSOP).

Canada also provides concrete support to Colombia’s peacebuilding efforts. In 2016, Canada announced funding of over $78 million specifically for the peace process. In July 2016, Canada’s Minister of International Development and the Francophonie, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, travelled to Colombia to announce $57.4 million in new bilateral development projects to support the peace process, including one of the largest demining projects ever funded by the Government of Canada and a $20 million grant to the United Nations Multipartner Trust Fund. Subsequently, in September 2016, Canada’s then-Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Stéphane Dion, announced an additional $21 million in new Peace and Stabilization Operations Program initiatives to support peace implementation initiatives. Additional contributions in kind have been made via Canada’s Department of National Defence and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Colombia faces some human rights challenges that are in direct relation to the development of its economic activity. In order to support Colombia with its efforts to address these issues, Canada leverages various aspects of its free trade relationship and commercial programming tools to support Colombia in its efforts to protect the human rights of its citizens.

As a result of Canada’s free trade relationship with Colombia and its membership in the Pacific Alliance, Canada funds trade-related technical assistance projects via the Canada-Americas Trade-Related Technical Assistance (CATRTA) initiative and also the Pacific Alliance Partnership. (See Annexes 15 & 16.) Via the CATRA initiative, Canada has funded projects worth $17 million in the region that have also benefited Colombia. In 2016, under the Pacific Alliance Partnership, three projects worth $21 million were announced. In many cases, these trade-related initiatives have the added benefit of furthering human rights or providing support for vulnerable groups such as women and Indigenous communities.

In Colombia specifically, the Embassy of Canada engages the Government of Colombia and Canadian extractive sector companies in a variety of initiatives to provide support for responsible natural resource development. Initiatives have included knowledge transfer of models, best practices and expertise between Colombian and international entities. In 2016, the Embassy of Canada to Colombia organized a human rights-focused CSR workshop in collaboration with various Colombian institutions representing the mining sector. The event was a collaborative initiative between the commercial and development programs of the Embassy of Canada and reached an audience of some 60 participants from both the public and private sectors in Colombia.

Internationally, Canada is engaged in a range of multi-stakeholder initiatives to actively promote international standards, guidelines, and best practices with the objective of increasing effective governance in resource-rich developing countries and enabling communities to maximize the benefits of natural resources development while respecting human rights. Canada and Colombia are active and collaborate in international CSR forums, on topics such as the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative.

Canada will continue to play a leading role within the international community in Colombia regarding the promotion and protection of human rights. It will continue to pursue the above-mentioned activities in order to monitor the human rights situation in the post-conflict context, particularly in remote areas where Canadian companies are located.

The preparation of this year’s report also involved consultations with a range of stakeholders.

The Government of Canada issued an online public call for submissions to inform the analysis of the 2017 annual report. The public call for submissions was posted on the Global Affairs Canada website and the website of the Embassy of Canada to Colombia for a period of four weeks. In addition, comments were also gathered through in-person meetings with members of civil society during the consultation period.

Consultations were well attended and high-quality submissions were received. Contributors to consultations included Canadian civil society groups with close ties to Colombian civil society and an interest in seeing a fair, just and prosperous democracy in Colombia. These groups have worked closely with communities in Colombia for many years providing relief and development assistance and continue to monitor the human rights situation in Colombia through regular exchanges and in-country visits.

Comments received through the consultation process raised concerns about the scope of the annual report, Canada’s approach to business and human rights in general, as well as broader human rights issues in Colombia. The report includes a summary of comments received including those regarding concerns outside the scope of the report, in acknowledgment of their importance.

The Government of Canada also consulted with the human rights commissions (or equivalent bodies) of provincial and territorial governments with regard to whether they had received any comments, questions or expressions of concern, regarding effects on human rights in Canada attributed to Canada’s tariff reductions under the CCOFTA during the period January 1, 2016–December 31, 2016. As in previous years, no concerns had been registered via these mechanisms.

Conclusion

The Agreement obligates the parties to provide a summary of actions taken under the CCOFTA and related side agreements as well as an analysis of their impact on human rights in Canada and the Republic of Colombia. 

As noted in previous annual reports, it is not possible to demonstrate that the actions taken in the implementation of the CCOFTA have had a direct impact on human rights in Canada or Colombia. Nonetheless, the Government of Canada takes the concerns expressed during consultations with stakeholders seriously and will continue to address issues of human rights in its ongoing engagement and programming in Colombia.

As a long-standing partner of Colombia, Canada will continue to do what it can to support the Government of Colombia in its efforts to build and implement a sustainable peace and long-lasting prosperity, as well as its ongoing efforts to promote and protect human rights.


Annexes

  • Annex 1: Commodity Price Index
  • Annex 2: Canada’s Merchandise Trade with Colombia, 2001-2016, Can$ million
  • Annex 3: Top 10 Monthly Average Export Gains from the Duty Free Category, Can$
  • Annex 4: Top 10 Monthly Average Export Gains from the Sectors with 0.1 - 5.0 percentage Points Tariff Reductions, Can$
  • Annex 5: Top 10 Monthly Average Export Gains from the Sectors with 5.1-10.0 percentage Points Tariff Reductions, Can$
  • Annex 6: Top 10 Monthly Average Exports Gains from the Sectors More Than 10.0 percentage Points Tariff Reductions, Can$
  • Annex 7: Top 10 Monthly Average Export Gains from the Exempt Category, Can$
  • Annex 8: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains from the Duty Free Category, Can$
  • Annex 9: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains from the Sectors with 0.1 - 5.0 percentage Points Tariff Reductions, Can$
  • Annex 10: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains with the Sectors with 5.1-10.0 percentage Point Tariff Reductions, Can$
  • Annex 11: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains from the Sectors with More Than 10 percentage Point Tariff Reductions, Can$
  • Annex 12: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains from the Exempt Category, Can$
  • Annex 13: Activities under the Canada-Colombia Labour Cooperation Agreement
  • Annex 14: Activities under the Canada-Colombia Environment Agreement
  • Annex 15: CATRTA Technical Assistance Programming with a Human Rights Focus
  • Annex 16: Canada’s Cooperation Projects under the Pacific Alliance Partnership
  • Annex 17: 2016 Public Call for Submissions
  • Annex 18: Civil Society Joint Statement Issued in Bogotá December 2, 2016
  • Annex 19: Canada’s Official Development Assistance Programming
  • Annex 20: Op Ed - El Espectador-Embajadores con Defensores-December 20, 2016

Annex 1: Commodity Price Index

Annex 1: Commodity Price Index

Source: Statistics Canada

Annex 2: Canada’s Merchandise Trade with Colombia, 2001-2016, Can$ million.
YearExportsImportsTotal TradeTrade Balance
2001365.9451.5781.3-49.6
2002343.5393.0736.5-49.5
2003307.6373.9681.5-66.2
2004387.1418.6805.7-34.5
2005448.2583.61,031.8-135.4
2006513.2640.41,153.6-127.2
2007662.2468.61,130.8193.7
2008708.8638.81,347.670.1
2009592.0733.61,325.6-141.6
2010642.3717.31,359.5-75.0
2011760.9799.41,560.3-38.5
2012828.2664.71,492.8169.5
2013711.5691.31,402.820.1
2014935.8891.81,827.644.0
2015782.8829.01,611.8-46.2
2016783.7788.01,571.7-4.2

Source: Statistics Canada

Annex 3: Top 10 Monthly Average Export Gains from the Duty Free Category, Can$
HS02 SectorSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016Growth
48Paper and paperboard2,815,047.473,323,153.75508,106.28
23Residues and waste from the food industries36,800.81108,793.4771,992.67
1Live animals46,178.3175,919.2529,740.94
84Nuclear Reactors, boilers and machinery8,843.0015,805.476,962.47
29Organic chemicals50.062,979.082,929.03
27Mineral fuels and oils-1,047.531,047.53
16Preparations of meat, fish or crustaceans808.111,515.72707.61
86Railway or tramway locomotives, rolling-stock and parts thereof-385.42385.42
72Iron and steel-338.31338.31
31Fertilizers-334.28334.28
SUMDuty-Free2,907,727.753,530,272.28622,544.53

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations

Annex 4: Top 10 Monthly Average Export Gains from the Sectors with 0.1 - 5.0 Percentage Points Tariff Reductions, Can$
HS02 SectorSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016Growth
10Cereals11,266,853.6126,826,697.7515,559,844.14
87Vehicles, except railway, and parts thereof9,454.752,254,708.282,245,253.53
1Fertilizers2,876,830.194,028,961.531,152,131.33
90Optical or medical instruments790,624.941,125,789.94335,165.00
28Inorganic chemicals and rare-earth metals33,995.17215,892.19181,897.03
32Tanning or dyeing extracts42,379.33181,999.08139,619.75
38Miscellaneous chemical products125,673.33153,813.1128,139.78
39Plastics and articles thereof4,417.9427,253.8122,835.86
86Railway or tramway locomotives, rolling-stock and parts thereof20,676.0631,882.6911,206.64
27Mineral fuels and oils73,624.8983,117.089,492.19
SUM0.1% - 5.0%15,244,530.2234,930,115.4719,685,585.25

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations

Annex 5: Top 10 Monthly Average Export Gains from the Sectors with 5.1-10.0 Percentage Points Tariff Reductions, Can$
HS02 SectorSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016Growth
30Pharmaceutical products204,372.081,294,623.281,090,251.19
48Paper and paperboard1,143,606.111,620,722.11477,116.00
36Explosives and pyrotechnic products161,747.56568,105.11406,357.56
47Pulp of wood and paper waste127,735.72408,992.33281,256.61
68Articles of stone, plaster, and cement21,684.78175,411.33153,726.56
76Aluminum and articles thereof80,971.97216,321.00135,349.03
28Inorganic chemicals and rare-earth metals42,408.58167,617.44125,208.86
2Meat and edible meat offal17,206.03107,256.4290,050.39
34Soap, washing preparations, waxes, and dental preparations43,881.72120,428.2276,546.50
70Glass and glassware1,677.0368,518.3966,841.36
SUM5.1% - 10.0%1,845,291.584,747,995.642,902,704.06

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations

Annex 6: Top 10 Monthly Average Exports Gains from the Sectors More Than 10.0 Percentage Points Tariff Reductions, Can$
HS02 SectorSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016Growth
7Edible vegetables5,552,394.896,513,135.83960,740.94
2Meat and edible meat offal275,323.081,184,963.00909,639.92
33Cosmetic or toilet preparations165,676.19742,568.25576,892.06
95Toys, games and sports accessories8,809.81429,941.03421,131.22
12Grains, seeds and fruit4,897.53381,733.86376,836.33
85Electrical machinery and equipment590,707.47695,776.81105,069.33
48Paper and paperboard10,691.5369,065.8158,374.28
13Gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts38,447.5686,720.3948,272.83
39Plastics and articles thereof417,399.81448,107.5630,707.75
54Man-made filaments26,458.4448,285.6921,827.25
SUMOver 10%7,090,806.3110,600,298.223,509,491.92

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations

Annex 7: Top 10* Monthly Average Export Gains from the Exempt Category, Can$
HS02 CodeSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016Growth
11Products of the milling industry2,777.2263,232.7560,455.53
1Live animals-26,056.9426,056.94
87Vehicles, except railway, and parts thereof-12,726.7812,726.78
32Tanning or dyeing extracts-3,271.283,271.28
48Paper and paperboard-764.86764.86
28Inorganic chemicals and rare-earth metals-133.50133.50
60Knitted or crocheted fabrics-9.179.17
SUMExempt2,777.22106,195.28103,418.06

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations
* There were only 7 sectors with positive growth in this category

Annex 8: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains from the Duty Free Category, Can$
HS02 CodeSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016GrowthUtilization Rate (%)
9Coffee, tea, and spices12,119,399.5815,519,611.783,400,212.190%
3Fish and crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates81,999.19548,998.72466,999.530%
30Pharmaceutical products217,056.64341,810.28124,753.646%
18Cocoa and cocoa preparations90,232.22173,569.2583,337.036%
84Nuclear Reactors, boilers and machinery246,614.67324,113.0977,498.4218%
12Grains, seeds and fruit113,916.67185,534.7571,618.082%
70Glass and glassware101,302.11160,278.4058,976.2910%
48Paper and paperboard46,469.3369,959.3923,490.0633%
21Miscellaneous edible preparations440,449.64462,796.6122,346.971%
43Furskins and artificial fur1,270.7818,319.1717,048.396%
SUMDuty-Free13,458,710.8317,804,991.444,346,280.61 

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations

Annex 9: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains from the Sectors with 0.1 - 5.0 Percentage Points Tariff Reductions, Can$
HS02 CodeSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016GrowthUtilization Rate (%)
68Articles of stone, plaster, and cement23,473.14231,163.47207,690.330%
17Sugars and sugar confectionery56,602.44114,794.3958,191.9441%
59Impregnated, coated, covered or laminated textile fabrics23,383.3952,205.2228,821.830%
23Residues and waste from the food industries1,436.9429,376.8927,939.9443%
41Raw hides, skins, and leather42,748.0359,739.1116,991.080%
85Electrical machinery and equipment31,914.7848,311.1116,396.331%
19Preparations of cereals, flour, starch or milk14,272.3929,284.5315,012.1489%
73Articles of iron or steel7.677,150.237,142.5784%
39Plastics and articles thereof118.065,728.925,610.865%
91Clocks and watches and parts thereof296.174,553.334,257.1797%
SUM0.1% - 5.0%194,253.00582,307.20388,054.20 

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations

Annex 10: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains with the Sectors with 5.1-10.0 Percentage Point Tariff Reductions, Can$
HS02 CodeSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016GrowthUtilization Rate (%)
18Cocoa and cocoa preparations10,092.31180,707.44170,615.1490%
20Preparations of vegetables, fruit, nuts or other parts of plants24,201.86114,077.5889,875.7287%
32Tanning or dyeing extracts15,524.9777,342.8661,817.890%
89Ships, boats and floating structures14,155.8348,064.0033,908.1786%
11Products of the milling industry4,577.5326,258.1721,680.6489%
40Rubber and articles thereof2,133.5020,060.2817,926.7823%
34Soap, washing preparations, waxes, and dental preparations145.0816,700.5016,555.4287%
87Vehicles, except railway, and parts thereof18,296.7227,903.119,606.390%
21Miscellaneous edible preparations2,879.1110,359.087,479.9778%
42Articles of leather46,004.9252,094.316,089.3994%
SUM5.1% - 10.0%138,011.83573,567.33435,555.50 

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations

Annex 11: Top 10 Monthly Average Import Gains from the Sectors with More Than 10 Percentage Point Tariff Reductions, Can$
HS02 CodeSector NamePre-CCOFTA 2008-2010Post-CCOFTA 2014-2016GrowthUtilization Rate (%)
6Live trees and other plants1,817,623.782,720,537.89902,914.1189%
15Animal or vegetable fats and oils37,229.97133,961.6196,731.6487%
61Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted236,567.53322,944.6186,377.0859%
64Footwear, gaiters and the like4,030.2814,624.0810,593.8182%
63Other made up textile articles19,370.3929,419.6710,049.284%
22Beverages, spirits and vinegar5,660.398,657.472,997.0825%
56Wadding, felt and nonwovens9,984.0612,013.962,029.906%
19Preparations of cereals, flour, starch or milk1,582.672,928.391,345.7271%
60Knitted or crocheted fabrics342.531,497.331,154.8128%
91Clocks and watches and parts thereof-1,106.501,106.5098%
SUMOver 10%2,132,391.583,247,691.511,115,299.93 

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations

Annex 12: Top 10* Monthly Average Import Gains from the Exempt Category, Can$

NONE

Source: Global Trade Atlas and Global Affairs Canada calculations
* There were no sectors with positive growth in this category

Annex 13: Activities under the Canada-Colombia Labour Cooperation Agreement

The provisions of the Labour Cooperation Agreement are complemented by concrete actions to address the labour situation in Colombia, notably through labour-related information sharing and technical assistance (TA). Since the coming into force of the Labour Cooperation Agreement, the Government of Canada, through the Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has focused on capacity building, project monitoring missions, and opportunities to foster relationships and encourage effective implementation. Since 2011, the Labour Program of ESDC has funded three labour-related TA projects in Colombia totaling approximately $950,000.

Key Objectives/Results

National Strategy for the Prevention and Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Colombia ($318,395)

  • (2015-2017) This project is being implemented by the ILO. It will facilitate the development and initial implementation of Colombia’s 2015-2025 National Strategy against child labour. This project intends to assess the National Strategy for the Prevention and Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and Protection of Young Workers 2008-2015 and identify best practices and implementation challenges with the view to informing the development and operationalization of the new 2015-2025 Strategy. The bulk of project activities will focus on capacity building of the Interagency Committee for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labour (CIETI) that includes the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Communications, the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare, the Colombian Institute for Youth and Sports, the National Learning Institute, trade unions, and the Council of Employers.

Social Dialogue and Occupational Health and Safety in the Mining Sector ($300,000)

  • (2013-2015) This project, implemented by the ILO, aimed to improve the social and economic conditions of coal mining sector stakeholders in the La Guajira Region through enhanced occupational health and safety practices (OHS) and through strengthened respect for fundamental rights at work.

    It arose from the need to improve labour relations and OHS in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the extractive sector. To ensure continued relevance, the project extended its scope beyond the extractive sector (coal, gas and salt), which led to the inclusion of other productive sectors such as construction, tourism, health, and electrification sectors, which are relevant to the extractive sector supply chain.

    This project utilized the ILO Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) training methodology and deployed modules on workplace cooperation and safety and health at work, with the latter one proving to be particularly relevant to local SMEs. Participating SMEs expressed a high level of satisfaction with the OSH focused component, stating that it enabled them to implement sustainable OSH practices in their workplaces that resulted in safer working conditions and had real, positive and lasting impact on their employees and the enterprise. The project also facilitated public dissemination of OHS information, and development of a decent work manual (both in Spanish and Wayuunaiki, the local Indigenous language in the La Guajira region).

Constructing Decent Work Agendas at Local and Regional Levels in Colombia ($330,000)

  • (2011-2013) This two-year project was implemented by the ILO in select Colombian departments (regions) and focused on strengthening Colombia’s departmental sub-commissions of the National Permanent Commission on Wage and Labour Policies. It further facilitated interactions between government and employer and employee organizations at the local and departmental level. An analysis of local labour conditions led to the development of a training program under which more than 200 government officials, workers and employers received training in the areas of fundamental labour rights, child labour, collective bargaining and strategic planning. Project results also included the approval by the Assembly of the Department of Magdalena of specific sections in its Departmental Development Plan on issues such as employment promotion, social security, social dialogue and child labour.

Annex 14: Activities under the Canada-Colombia Environment Agreement

This is a selection of the environmental programming in Colombia. Total Canadian funding for environmental projects in Colombia exceeds $2.9 million. Canadian funding for Latin American regional programming (which benefited Colombia as a recipient) amounts to approximately $7.8 million.

Key Objectives/Results

Conservation of Biological Diversity ($264,485)

  • (2013-2016) A Canada-Americas Trade-Related Technical Assistance (CATRTA) program project was initiated which focuses on conservation of biological diversity. The project aimed to establish a regional conservation alliance to conserve critical habitats for birds by improving habitat and economic returns in working landscapes in Colombia. This project was concluded in Spring 2016.

Pollutant Release and Transfer Registries (PRTR) workshop ($12,500)

  • (2015) A Pollutant Release and Transfer Registries (PRTR) workshop was held in August 2015 in Bogotá, Colombia. This binational training workshop focused on building government capacity on design and implementation of PRTRs to meet standards set by the OECD. This initiative supports commitments under the Environment Agreement related to transparency and high level environmental protection.

Reduction of Short Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) emissions from Oil and Gas operations ($400,000)

  • (2014-2015) Under the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Oil and Gas Initiative, Canada led the development and implementation of multilateral demonstration project with two companies (Pacific Exploration and Mansarovar). This project focused on reducing methane and black carbon emissions from flaring and venting practices. Results clearly indicated that SLCPs could be minimized or eliminated through the implementation of innovative technologies that both decrease black carbon emissions and conserve non-renewable energy in a cost-effective manner. For example, technologies deployed at one oil terminal and gas processing facility resulted in savings of $53 million annually and an immediate return on investment. This project builds on a previous Canadian contribution through which the Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) delivered technical advice to Colombia for the development of implementable mitigation actions in the Oil and Gas Sector.

Climate Change Resilience in Protected Areas ($850,000)

  • (2012-2013) The Climate Change Resilience in Protected Areas project provided support to Parques Nacionales Naturales to enhance the resilience of ecosystems and local communities to climate change effects by conserving and restoring protected areas and increasing adaptive capacities to climate change. This project aimed to minimize the impacts of climate change on ecosystems by developing and implementing good practices to safeguard and restore the ecological integrity of protected areas in Colombia and increase the adaptive capacities to climate change.

Climate Change Adaptation Educational Program ($265,241)

  • (2012-2013) Canada provided support to the Climate Change Adaptation Educational Program (CCAR) del Alto Magdalena to support environmental education of municipal and regional government officials, citizen groups and journalists of the Alto Magdalena. The project focused on building participants’ capacity to mitigate the effects of natural disasters that arise due to changing weather conditions such as increased flooding.

Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions in the Waste and Landfill Sector

  • (2011-2013) In partnership with the Center for Clean Air Policy, Colombia’s Ministry of Environment, private sector stakeholders and local industry experts, Canada supported the implementation of an integrated solid waste management demonstration project. The Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) project in the Waste and Landfill Sector, aimed to maximize economic value from waste streams and to reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) emissions as well as explore options for improving the quality of life of the city’s informal waste pickers. SLCP emissions were reduced by (1) diverting solid waste away from landfills; (2) creating market opportunities for compost (instead of artificial fertilizers); (3) increasing recycling thereby avoiding production of new materials, (4) using refuse-derived fuel for industrial purposes thus displacing coal and gas and (5) analyzing health and social impacts on the Colombian population. On social impact specifically, the project explored opportunities and options to improve the quality of life of the city’s informal waste picker by, for example, formalizing policies to provide health and social benefits.

Annex 15: CATRTA Technical Assistance Programming with a Human Rights Focus

Description

Gender Equity and Canadian Free Trade Agreements (FTAs): Achieving Gender Equality Results from the Implementation of Canadian FTAs with Colombia and Peru
$320,000 (Colombia: $160,000)

  • (2012 –2013) This sub-project will strengthen the capacity of Peru and Colombia to enhance women exporters' trade with Canada while monitoring the current and future impacts – both positive and negative - of the trade relationship from a gender perspective. It will examine the implications for women – as labourers, workers, entrepreneurs, business owners and executives – of the new Canadian FTAs in Peru and Colombia. Critically, the sub-project will identify policy instruments to support governments to help women benefit from opportunities, and manage the challenges, associated with these FTAs.
  • The key objectives of the sub-project are to:
    • Build the capacity of the Peruvian and Colombian governments to generate gender sensitive policies and initiatives that will promote women’s participation in international trade, particularly with Canada; and to
    • Build the capacity of Peruvian and Colombian governments, civil society, businesses and workers to monitor the gender related impacts of Canada’s FTAs.

Building the Capacity of Aboriginal Women Artisans in La Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta of Colombia to Export their Handicrafts (Mochila Bags) to Canada
$340,000

  • (2012-2015) The main goal of this sub-project is to build the capacity of the Colombian aboriginal women artisans to produce, market and export their products to the Canadian market. The capacity-building process will include the assessment of the Canadian market needs; a fact-finding mission in which the artisans will travel to meet successful Aboriginal artisans in Canada and learn from their experiences; training in quality control, marketing, business practices, and accounting; ensuring access to raw materials, means of production and distribution; and the implementation of sustainable strategies that take advantage of the benefits of the Canada–Colombia FTA. As the very first of its kind, this initiative seeks to transfer the necessary business skills and knowledge as a means to empower and achieve equity for those women-owned and operated businesses, decreasing their needs to rely on intermediary sellers and distributors in order to export to the Canadian market.

Contributing to the Protection of Labour Rights, with Emphasis on In-Migrant Workers in Large Scale Projects in the Extractive Sector in Casanare, Colombia
$101,000

  • 2013–2016 This sub-project aims to contribute to the protection of labour rights of internal and international in-migrant workers in large scale mining and oil projects in Casanare, Colombia. This area hosts exploration and production projects by Canadian companies with actual or potential migration impacts, and a growth in its number and scope is expected taking into consideration the Free Trade Agreement signed between Colombia and Canada (CCFTA), and the Colombian policy for turning the extractive sector into a development driving force.

Improving the Capacity to Act on Gender Equality in Colombia: A Fresh Look at the Coffee Export Sector
$186,000

  • (2013 –2015) NSI will work with the National Federation of Coffee Producers (FNC) to improve their capacity to collect and monitor labour data from a gender perspective. The end result is an enhanced skill set at FNC with which to identify equality problems and work together with the workers to resolve them on the ground. Project activities will directly aid the FNC in rolling out their gender equality policy with regional members, while at the same time, will provide the Labour Ministry and other stakeholders with better gender analysis, informing policies and sector regulation.

Communities Enhancing Biodiversity through Working Landscapes in Colombia
$264,000

  • (2012–2016) The objective of this project is to establish and complete a first phase of work of a new regional conservation alliance with a mandate to conserve critical habitats for birds by improving habitat and economic returns in working landscapes in Colombia. This will be achieved through the collaborative and integrated actions of a sustainable partnership that promotes beneficial agroforestry practices to improve bird habitat in Colombia’s tropical Andean forests and provide simultaneous economic benefits for rural agricultural communities. The alliance will be comprised of land owners, coffee and cattle farmers and associations, conservation organizations, government land management agencies, corporations and academic researchers.

Annex 16: Canada’s Cooperation Projects under the Pacific Alliance Partnership

Description

Improving Market Access and Export Readiness for Pacific Alliance Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
$524,000

  • (2016-2018) The Improving Market Access and Export Readiness project is a two-year initiative (2016-2018) designed to support Pacific Alliance export agencies (ProChile, ProColombia, ProMéxico and PromPerú) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in accessing Canadian markets in the agro-food sector. Through this project, Canada will work with the trade support institutions of the Pacific Alliance countries to provide tools, advice and training to exporter companies, particularly SMEs, on how to enter the Canadian market. This assistance will be provided through the delivery of trade capacity workshops, seminars, and a unified Pacific Alliance presence at a trade show in Canada.

Canada-Pacific Alliance Scholarships
$5 million

  • (2016-2021) The Canada-Pacific Alliance Scholarships project is a five-year (2016-2021) initiative designed to support Pacific Alliance countries to sustainably manage and regulate their extractive sectors. Training at Canadian universities will be offered through a scholarship program to Pacific Alliance public sector professionals who will have the opportunity to participate in masters or certificate programs, as well as short courses that focus on topics directly relevant to the effective governance and technical management of the extractive sector.

Skills for Employment for the Extractives Sector of the Pacific Alliance
$16.2 million

  • (2016-2021)The Skills for Employment for the Extractives Sector project is a five-year (2016-2021) initiative designed to support Pacific Alliance countries in strengthening their technical and vocational education and training, and establishing strong, demand-driven and industry-responsive training systems in the extractive sector. This project demonstrates Canada’s commitment to support clean development and inclusive growth in Pacific Alliance countries, by partnering with civil society and the private sector, and promoting responsible natural resource management and commercial practices. This will be achieved by providing training for the qualification and employability of vulnerable women and on environmental management and rehabilitation of mining sites; by sharing best practices in Canadian and Pacific Alliance institutions on self-employment; and by organizing thematic forums to disseminate policies developed on themes common to all Pacific Alliance countries.

Annex 17: 2016 Public Call for Submissions

The following public call for submissions was posted both on the website of Global Affairs Canada and also on the website of the Embassy of Canada to Colombia.

Public Call for Submissions regarding Canada’s Annual Report on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia

The Government of Canada is seeking the input of interested parties pursuant to the provisions of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Implementation Act), which entered into force on August 15, 2011.

The Implementation Act includes the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Colombia Agreement on Labour Cooperation and the Canada-Colombia Environment Agreement.

The Implementation Act requires the Minister for International Trade to "...cause to be laid before each House of Parliament by May 15 of each year or, if that House is not then sitting, on any of the 30 days next thereafter that it is sitting, a report on the operation of this Act during the previous calendar year, containing a general summary of all actions taken under the authority of this Act, and an analysis of the impact of these actions on human rights in Canada and the Republic of Colombia."

Interested parties are invited to provide written submissions to help inform the analysis of the impact of the actions taken under the Implementation Act being developed for the Government of Canada’s 2017 annual report. The 2017 annual report will cover the period from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

For reasons of confidentiality and security, the submissions and names of contributors to this consultation process will not be released to the public by the Government of Canada.

Contributions can be sent by e-mail, facsimile or mail to:

Consultations - Agreement concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia
South America Relations (NLA)
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa ON  K1A 0G2
Fax: 613-996-3406
Email: NLA@international.gc.ca

Submissions should be e-mailed, faxed, or postmarked no later than February 17, 2017.

Annex 18: Civil Society Joint Statement Issued in Bogotá December 2, 2016

International Civil Society Organizations Welcome the New Peace Agreement and Manifest their Deep Concern for the Attacks Against Social Leaders that Work in the Promotion of Peace in Several Regions of the Country

Annex 18: International Civil Society Organizations

International Civil Society Organizations that endorse this statement are deeply concerned about the more than 81 violent actions perpetrated against social leaders after the bilateral cease-fire was declared by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP on August 26, 2016. These include assassinations, threats, attacks, robberies and harassment among other modalities. The aggressions have intensified dramatically in recent weeks, placing the sustainability of the implementation of the peace agreements at serious risk.

We express our solidarity to the families and the victim’s organizations.

The new Peace Agreement that was achieved between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP - after several sessions of dialogue between the Government and representatives of the NO - "to end the conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting peace," includes measures aimed at guaranteeing the life, safety, integrity and work of social leaders, organizations and human rights defenders.

Achieving a stable and lasting peace demands the opening of spaces for dialogue where the peaceful transformation of conflicts is viable through the adoption of institutional and structural reforms, based on the respect and guarantee of human rights, for which we urge:

  • The national government to implement immediately point 3.4 of the Peace Agreement, which includes the creation of the National Commission on Security Guarantees and the Special Unit at the Attorney General Office. Moreover, to take concrete measures, clarify and dismantle paramilitary structures that, according to the information received, continue to operate in several regions of the country and are indicated by the victims as the alleged perpetrators of several threats, attacks and murders that occurred in recent days.
  • To the Ministry of the Interior, to announce the results and conclusions of the High Level Commission of Investigations created in March 2016, to address the increased murders of social leaders and human rights defenders.
  • To the Attorney General’s Office, to promptly advance in the investigations and to inform on the results that may bring to justice the material and intellectual authors of these crimes so they do not remain in impunity.

We express our gratitude to the international community for their commitment and support to the peace building process in Colombia, a commitment that has saved lives in the country so far, and we encourage you to continue. Moreover, we would like to emphasize the importance of urgently addressing a void in the UN Security Council Resolution 2261 and include a human rights verification component to be undertaken by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia (OHCHR).

We reiterate our urgent call to the Colombian Government and the ELN guerrillas to initiate immediately the public negotiation phase and thus eliminate, once and for all, the use of violence in carrying out politics in the country.

As International Civil Society Organizations, within the framework of our mandates, we reiterate our commitment to the peace building process, as well as to the support and protection of the civilian population.

Bogotá, Colombia December 2, 2016

For more information:

ESPACIO DE COOPERACIÓN PARA LA PAZ
Cooppaz2016@gmail.com

Annex 19: Canada’s Official Development Assistance Programming

The following projects are examples of Canada’s Development Programming in Colombia through which support was provided for human rights between 2011 and 2016.

Key Objectives/Results

Assistance to Landmine Survivors ($2.9 million)

  • (2012 to 2016) The "Assistance to Landmine Survivors" project advances the rights of civilian landmine survivors in Colombia by ensuring that they benefit from services to which they are legally entitled, thereby supporting their recovery and socio-economic reintegration into Colombian society. Support includes: (1) increased access to services for civilian landmine survivors, with a focus on children and youth; and (2) increased capacity of the Colombian stakeholders engaged in victim assistance to respond to the survivors' needs.

Protection Children Education in Southwest Colombia – Phase 2 ($19.5 million)

  • (2013 to 2019) The "Protection Children Education in Southwest Colombia" project supports access to safe and quality education in the departments of Cauca, Nariño and Caquetá. The project improves the quality of education of 80,800 children and youth that are in school. It will also reintegrate 38,800 out-of-school children and youth in formal schools or in flexible education models. Access to quality education gives children and youth a better chance of avoiding recruitment by illegal armed groups, participation in illicit activities, and involvement in violence. Flexible Education Models provide alternative educational opportunities for out-of-school Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, displaced, and generally vulnerable children and youth.

Human Rights Protection in Colombia ($8 million)

  • (2010 to 2014) Through the "Human Rights Protection in Colombia" project, Global Affairs Canada supported the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Colombia to enhance the understanding of the Government of Colombia and stakeholders of the human rights situation in Colombia and how best to improve it; enhance the protection of Colombia’s citizens from human rights violations and improved responses by the Government of Colombia and its oversight institutions to human rights violations; and increase the use of human rights protection and prosecution mechanisms by victims, civil society organizations and the general public.

Transitional Solutions Initiative for the Displaced ($9 million)

  • (2013 to 2016) With the "Transitional Solutions Initiative for the Displaced" Global Affairs Canada is financing the UNHCR programme "Transitional Solutions for Displaced" (TSI). This project seeks to ensure that internally displaced persons (IDPs), who have been forced to leave their homes because of the armed conflict in Colombia, benefit from basic protection and economic opportunities via community-based plans.

Andean Regional Initiative (ARI) for Strategic Partnerships for Local Development ($7 million)

  • (2010 to 2017) Through Global Affair’s Andean Regional Initiative (ARI) for Strategic Partnerships for Local Development, Canada is helping to improve the social and economic well-being of targeted communities in partnership with the private sector. ARI seeks to increase the capacity of local and regional governments to make sustainable development investments in collaboration with the private sector. ARI Colombia is supporting six sub-projects in Colombia with contributions from the Government of Canada totaling CAD $4.1 million and contributions from the private sector (mainly from the extractive industry) totaling CAD $3.3 million. The six sub-projects are directly supporting 2,236 families in improving the agricultural production and commercialization of their products (such as pepper, sugar cane, dairy and forestry products, fruit and coffee), as well as providing education for employment and technical vocational training to 700 youth from vulnerable communities on tourism and port logistics.

Building Extractive Sector Governance in Colombia ($18.9 million)

  • (2015 – 2020) The project, implemented by Agriteam, aims to strengthen the capacities of the government entities at national and local levels to enable the Colombian extractive sector to contribute to more environmentally sustainable and equitable economic growth. Project activities include: (1) reviewing extractive sector policies and regulations related to environmental management and Indigenous community consultation; (2) establishing training and tools to prevent conflict at the community level; (3) developing government information systems to improve decision making and transparency on environmental impacts, revenues and land use planning; and (4) creating a learning program on Canadian best practices in community relations and environmental management for communities in the departments of Putumayo, Meta and Antioquia.

Sustainable Colombian Opportunities for Peacebuilding and Employment ($15.2 million)

  • (2015 – 2020) The project, implemented by Cuso International, aims to improve inclusive economic growth and support peacebuilding in Colombia by providing market-driven training and employment opportunities for conflict-affected people and at-risk youth in eight cities: Soacha, Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Buenaventura y Quibdó. The project also increases the ability of local authorities and private sector partners to develop and implement inclusive employment policies and practices for vulnerable populations. The project is expected to reach 4,000 vulnerable youth and their families, and at least 80 per cent will receive a guaranteed job placement with private sector partners.

Leading for Peace – Supporting the Rights of Children and Youth in Colombia ($18.9 million)

  • (2016-2021) This project strengthens the capacity of the Government of Colombia to deliver protection and compensation services to victims of armed conflict, particularly children and youth. It benefits 84,000 children and youth and 56,000 women in three conflict-affected municipalities in Colombia’s Pacific Coast: Buenaventura, Tumaco and Quibdó. The project trains 1,640 national and local government officials to deliver protection and compensation services, via a community outreach strategy that ensures that social services are inclusive and accessible for hard-to-reach beneficiaries. It trains youth networks, community leaders, and community-based organizations to participate in municipal planning. It trains youth in entrepreneurship, peacebuilding, life skills and community leadership. This project is implemented by Plan International Canada.

Protection and Education of Vulnerable Children and Youth in Colombia ($17.2 million)

  • (2014-2019) This project, implemented by a consortium of Mercy Corps and War Child Holland, aims to provide security, education and after-school activities for at-risk children and youth in the conflict-affected departments of Putumayo and Choco. It will protect 48,000 children and youth at risk of violence and recruitment by illegal armed groups via access to a safe school environment and a quality education. The project also strengthens the capacities of 1,200 teachers to protect and respect the rights of children and youth and to use teaching methods that improve student learning; and reinforces the capacities of departmental Secretariats of Education to integrate child protection and education quality improvement in their plans.

United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Post-Conflict in Colombia ($20 million)

  • (2016-2019) Colombia is emerging from fifty years of armed conflict between the government and guerrilla movements. This project, administered via the United Nations Development Programme, supports the Government of Colombia’s peace implementation efforts via technical assistance and rapid-response initiatives in communities directly affected by armed conflict. Areas of support include demining, transitional justice, governance, prevention and management of local conflicts, and reintegration and socio-economic development of former combatants. Assistance is delivered via United Nations agencies in Colombia, Colombian and International non-governmental organizations and the Government of Colombia.

Landmine Action in Colombia ($12.5 million)

  • (2016-2021) After more than fifty years of internal armed conflict, Colombia is the second most landmine affected nation in the world. This project, implemented by The Halo Trust, will conduct humanitarian demining activities in ten mine-affected municipalities. It will recruit, train and deploy civilian landmine survey and manual clearance teams from local communities, including ex-combatants. By surveying vulnerable communities and removing landmines in targeted municipalities, the project will prevent further accidents; identify safe areas for land restitution; enable the return of internally displaced persons; and restore access to farmland, public services, and safe routes to markets and schools. The project will benefit over 27,000 people living in some of Colombia’s poorest rural municipalities. It will also create safe conditions for 60,000 displaced persons to return home safely.

Annex 20: Op Ed - El Espectador-Embajadores con Defensores-December 20, 2016

The following Opinion Editorial was drafted by Embajadores con Defensores (Ambassadors in support of Defenders) and published on December 20, 2016 in leading Colombian newspaper ‘El Espectador’. This particular initiative of Embajadores con Defensores was led by the Embassy of Canada in Colombia.

The international community stands ready to support the implementation of the peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia –Peoples’ Army (FARC-EP). After over 50 years of internal armed conflict, the prospect of peace, which all Colombians so richly deserve, is now closer than ever.

We support the implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC-EP through our respective bilateral programs, as well as through new multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations Multi-Donor Trust Fund and the European Union Trust Fund. Human Rights are integral to our cooperation. 

However, everything we do in support of building a stable and durable peace will be insufficient if, in Colombia, leaders and human rights defenders continue to be murdered. In only one weekend in November the lives of five leaders were taken violently in Caquetá, Meta and Nariño. Erley Monroy, the leader of the Lozada-Guayabero Association of Farmers, was killed without a word by unknown assailants. In the same area, another leader was attacked when leaving Mr. Monroy’s funeral service. Erley’s case, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), is one of 52 killings of local leaders and human rights defenders in the first 10 months of this year, 75 percent of them in rural areas. 

The killings of human rights defenders and local leaders are not only a tragedy for the families of the victims, they also disrupt communities and pose a direct threat to the implementation of the peace agreement, particularly those measures that are meant to encourage political participation and to strengthen local democratic governance.

We welcome the commitment of the Government of Colombia to investigate and prosecute those who are responsible for these threats and killings. We applaud the decision of President Santos to convene a high level meeting of the National Human Rights Commission and we welcome the actions announced by the Attorney-General’s Office and the Security Forces. New inter-institutional efforts to protect those under threat and prosecute the perpetrators are part of the peace agreement. Their implementation, especially the installation of an Integral Security and Protection Program for communities and organizations in rural areas and the installation of a Special Investigation Unit in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, is urgent.

The international community, however, also has a responsibility. We coordinate our human rights activities in the Sub-Committee on Human Rights, which is part of the broader Donors’ Group representing key donor countries in Colombia. Supported by the Office of the UNHCHR, the Sub-Committee on Human Rights is the principal mechanism through which Embassies develop an agenda of shared priorities and joint actions, including field visits, meetings with civil society, raising cases or priority issues before the authorities, and high level visits. We share information on human rights challenges, and engage in honest, frank dialogue with Colombian authorities and civil society. The idea always is to facilitate and propose practical ways to help improve the human rights situation in Colombia.

The spirit of the mechanism is constructive in nature, recognizing that all members of the international community have their own distinctive human rights challenges which benefit from dialogue, transparency, and cooperation. For example, since 2015, we have maintained an ongoing dialogue with the Attorney General’s Office on its progress in investigating threats and killings against human rights defenders, and we offer our support to swiftly resolve these cases.

As ambassadors, however, we are convinced we can do more. We believe that our personal support and accompaniment can make a real difference to the lives of Colombians who are advocating for improvements in their communities, often under great threat or even at the cost of their lives.

In recognition of the unique opportunity Colombia has to make peace, and in view of the necessity to take action now to prevent further killings of local leaders and human rights defenders, we, as Heads of Mission of the Sub-Committee, intend to engage in proactive, coordinated field visits to different departments in order to lend public support and accompaniment to local leaders and human rights defenders who find themselves under threat. We have called this activity in Spanish “Embajadores con Defensores” (Ambassadors with Defenders).

In doing so, we will rely on the expert advice of the Presidential Counsellor for Human Rights, as well as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, with whom we will share our findings.

We will always ensure that we meet with a range of interlocutors to ensure common awareness and understanding of a given threat or situation, such as local government representatives and security officials, civil society actors, relevant international and Colombian institutions in the field, and media, in order that the relevant authorities may take appropriate means of prevention or protection in coordination with communities and their leaders and defenders.

Signed by,
Donald Bobiash, Ambassador of Canada and Co-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights Jeroen Roodenburg, Ambassador of the Netherlands and Co-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights Jo Michael Bock, Ambassador of Germany
Johan Vibe, Ambassador of Norway
Marie Andersson de Frutos, Ambassador of Sweden
Kurt Kunz, Ambassador of Switzerland
Peter Tibber, Ambassador of the United Kingdom
Ana-Paula Zacarias, Ambassador of the European Union