8 April, 2016. Bogota, Colombia. In its attempt to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically goal number 16, the University for Peace – represented by its Rector, Dr. Francisco Rojas Aravena – made several strategic visits to institutions in Bogota, Colombia, generating rapprochement with entities such as the National Police and the Armed Forces.
Dr. Rojas-Aravena, visited the National Police of Colombia to sign a cooperation agreement that aims to promote academic exchanges between the two institutions, in the scientific and educational fields. In this regard, the opportunities for cooperation and collaboration in public safety, coexistence, conflict resolution, human rights, international law and scientific research, are among the main areas of joint work.
The participants at the signing of this agreement were: General Fabian Cardenas; General Rafael Parra; Director General of the National Police of Colombia, General Jorge Nieto; Rector Francisco Rojas; National Director of Education, General Mireya Cordon; Deputy Director of the National Police of Colombia, Ricardo Restrepo; and Colonel Jenny Calvo.
Within the framework of his visit to this country, Rector Rojas also held a productive exchange of views and analysis of the national and regional situation with the Armed Forces of Colombia, where delegates from the Future Army Transformation Command (Comando de Transformación Ejército Futuro), such as the Major General Fernando Pineda Solarte and the Director of Research Center, Rocío Pachón, were present.
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Finally, the Rector held a lecture on the 'Right to Peace', in the Forum "The Right to Peace", on 8 April, at the Congress in the Constitution Hall. This forum was organized by the Unit for Attention and Integral Reparation for Victims (Unidad para la Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas), with the support of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights.
In his lecture, the rector highlighted the long, complex and difficult path of establishing the collective right to peace. He further recalled the first statement made by the United Nations General Assembly and its resolution 39/11 of 12 November 1984. He also highlighted, the African Charter on Human Rights that states, in Article 23: "All peoples have the right to peace and national and international security".
Nowadays, the right to peace is fundamental and essential in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Particularly in goal 16: "To promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, facilitating access to justice for all and create effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels." Dr. Rojas recalled that Colombia, with more than half a century of war, has lived painful times because of the number of victims and the serious damage that war has created. He emphasized the strong link between peace, democracy and development and its expression in terms of peace, human rights and human development. In this regard, he stressed how Colombia seeks to overcome this situation with policies to recognize victims, make them visible and included; and make them key players in the ongoing peace process through which the country seeks to develop truth, justice and reparation to avoid repetition of the atrocities of war. An essential aspect is that the Colombian Constitution of 1991, Article 22 states that: "Peace is a right and a mandatory duty."
Dr. Rojas concluded this lecture by explaining and stressing the important role of the University for Peace in the formation of new generations: "to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace and with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations."
The Presidential Adviser on Human Rights, Dr. Guillermo Rivera; Deputy Director of the Unit for Attention and Integral Reparation for Victims, Doctor Gabriel Bustamante; the Private Secretary of the Senate of the Republic, Dr. Felipe Valencia; and the Coordinator of the National Board of Effective Participation of Victims, Odorico Guerra were among the participants of this conference. Additionally, Juan Navarrete intervened on behalf of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, with the important subject of 'Inter-American Human Rights System and Peace in Colombia'; and Professor Margarita Londoño, Social Communicator of the Universidad del Valle, presented her lecture on 'Communications for Peace'.