New Permanent Representative of Colombia Presents Credentials

(Based on information provided by the Protocol and Liaison Service)

The new Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, Leonor Zalabata Torres, presented her credentials to UN Secretary-General António Guterres today.

Ms. Zalabata Torres is the first indigenous woman appointed as her country’s ambassador to the United Nations.  Prior to her appointment, she served in various capacities as an advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples in Colombia and environmental justice.  She has also worked to improve the political representation of indigenous women and peoples.

She is a member of the Human Rights Committee for the Tayrona Indigenous Confederation in the National Indigenous Human Rights Committee (Colombia).  A founding member and Coordinator of the Health Program for La Sierra Nevada de Sta. Marta, she is also co-author of the National Guidelines for Bilingual and Intercultural Education Program for the Arhuaco people.

Ms. Zalabata Torres served as the Negotiations Spokesperson for Colombian indigenous people for the creation of the National Committee of Indigenous Human Rights in 1996.  She also served as advisor to Indigenous Representative Lorenzo Muelas at the Colombian National Constitutional Assembly in 1991.

She has worked as Indigenous Adviser to the Colombian Territorial Ordinance Committee, and as a member of the National Committee for Indigenous Territories and the Permanent Indigenous Peoples’ Conciliation.  She served as Indigenous Representative to the Conferences of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Working Group on Article 8(j), as well as Indigenous Representative at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Ms. Zalabata Torres has received several awards for her leadership in defence of the rights of indigenous peoples and environmental justice, including the Anna Lindh Prize, an international human rights award, granted by the Government of Sweden in 2007.  She also received an award from the University of Rosario in Bogotá, which recognized her as the first International Woman in Indigenous Diplomacy in 2009.

She was born in the Arhuaco indigenous village of Kwakumuke, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in Colombia.

For information media. Not an official record.