After a long academic career in the field of international law, H.E. Ms. Carolina Olarte Bácares has become the Ambassador of Colombia to the Netherlands. Within the broad portfolio in her hands, she plans to focus on three issues in particular: peace, just energy transition, and women.
On January 25th, 2023, H.E. Ms. Carolina Olarte Bácares presented her credentials to His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, thus officially becoming the Ambassador of the Republic of Colombia in The Hague.
The new Ambassador brings with her an impressive amount of expertise in the domain of international law, owing to her academic engagement in this domain during the past two decades. Starting with a Bachelor of Laws at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana of Bogota in 2001, in the span of 19 years Ms. Olarte Bácares went on to become the Dean of her alma mater’s Law School.
In between, a number of successes in the academic world and beyond: a Master of Research in International Law from Robert Schuman University in France, a PhD in International Law at university Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, teaching, research and guest lecturing positions at several prestigious universities across the Americas and Europe, as well as professional engagements with the UNHCR and the International Bar Association.
Owing to this long-standing career, The Hague is not a new city for Ms. Olarte Bácares, who has been a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, as well as an agent of Colombia before the International Court of Justice.
In this new role, her task – representing Colombia in the Netherlands – is a broader one, but one that the new Ambassador is taking up with excitement. “For a Colombian lawyer and international jurist like me, promoting the interests of Colombia in The Hague is undoubtedly a very significant opportunity” – H.E. Ms. Olarte Bácares said during the inauguration remarks following the presentation of her credentials.
Reflecting the breadth of the bilateral ties between Colombia and the Netherlands, the Ambassador’s portfolio is set to be a vast one. Within this broader framework, the Ambassador plans to focus on three specific areas: peace, a just energy transition, and women. After presenting these three priority areas during her inauguration remarks, the Ambassador discussed them in depth with Diplomat Magazine Publisher Ms. Mayelinne De Lara.
The Ambassador’s focus on peace reflects the strong focus adopted by her government on the “Total Peace Policy”, which seeks to achieve peace in the country by negotiating with all armed group, as well as by including local communities in the negotiations.
For the implementation of this policy, Colombia plans to work with its international partners, including the Netherlands, who have already been providing their support to the building of peace in the country – the Ambassador noted. “Total peace also implies constant collaboration with international criminal law institutions, such as the International Criminal Court, from a constructive and increasingly positive perspective of complementarity.”
The peace process in Colombia has included the creation of a number of innovative, ad hoc institutions such as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Truth Commission. “One of my aims as Ambassador – Ms. Olarte Bácares told Diplomat Magazine – is to explain abroad the details of this long-term peace laboratory that we are going through in Colombia. This experience is very innovative, and it could be extremely useful for other countries and in other contexts.”
As a second priority for her mandate, the Ambassador stressed that “Colombia has a fundamental interest in strengthening bilateral relations with the Netherlands in favor of its energy transition and the promotion of renewable energies.” Colombia sees itself as a ‘world power for life’, and as such it is “committed to a just energy transition that responds to the global crisis generated by climate change” – she added.
Areas of focus for Colombia are the development of solar and wind power capacity, as well as the implementation of green hydrogen projects and the strengthening of a circular economy. In these areas, there is a lot of room for cooperation with the Netherlands – the Ambassador told Diplomat Magazine. For instance, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Colombia and the Port of Rotterdam, to enable the stocking of green hydrogen and its transport to Europe.
Delving into her third priority area, women, the Ambassador explained that Colombia is currently in the process of drafting a feminist foreign policy based on three key premises: pacifism, intersectionality, and participation. “This policy addresses the root causes of gender inequality in the country and helps us bring them to international arenas with the aim of working together with others to overcome these causes” – the Ambassador noted. “The collaborative work that we can promote from the Colombian Embassy in the Netherlands, both bilaterally and multilaterally, will be decisive in advancing this purpose” – she added.
During her conversation with Diplomat Magazine, Ambassador Olarte Bácares also voiced her desire to further strengthen existing cooperation mechanisms for knowledge exchange – an area naturally dear to her owing to her academic background. The Ambassador praised the role of Dutch-funded programmes is this domain – such as the Orange Knowledge Program, which helps people from rural and conflict-affected areas to access quality education. She also noted the existence of networks of Colombian researchers and professors in the Netherlands, and expressed her interest in supporting them to grow further.
The diplomatic community of the Netherlands wishes Ambassador Olarte Bácares and her staff all the best for bringing forward this ambitious agenda in the coming years!