I thank Deputy Crowe for raising this issue. I know he has an interest in Colombia, as do I. I am aware of the difficult situation that exists for human rights defenders, social leaders and former combatants in Colombia, and of the worrying levels of violence, threats and intimidation carried out against these groups.
Our new resident embassy in Bogotá has been engaging with civil society, EU and multilateral partners on the human rights situation in the country, since it opened at the beginning of the year. We also regularly raise this issue in our exchanges with the Colombian Government. Ireland has a long-standing commitment to peace and security in Colombia. The Taoiseach underlined Ireland's continuing support for the Colombian peace process in his meeting with President Duque en marge of the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2018.
The peace process is fundamental to improving the human rights situation in the country and Ireland has contributed more than €14 million in support of that since 2007, mainly channelled through the United Nations and Colombian and international NGOs focusing on human rights, conflict prevention, peace-building and supporting livelihoods for rural populations.
As well as financial support, Ireland has also provided ongoing support in the form of lesson-sharing based on our own experience of peace-building and reconciliation on the island of Ireland. Most recently, this month my Department shared lessons from the Northern Ireland peace process with Colombia, facilitating a series of discussions with the Colombian Government around the implementation of the peace accords. Great strides have been made in the implementation of the peace accords in Colombia since they were signed in November 2016. However, significant challenges remain, including in the areas of rural reform, reincorporation of former combatants and the protection of human rights defenders, civil society activists and social leaders.
Not least among the lessons we have learned in 20 years of implementation of the Good Friday Agreement is how long it takes to build a sustainable peace and that it is not a linear process. Ireland will remain a committed supporter of Colombia and its efforts to secure long-lasting peace and security for its people. We will also continue to ask the important questions from a human rights defenders perspective.