Protecting civilians in armed conflict
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Geneva Call’s programme coordinator in Colombia receives the Henry Dunant prize

11th May 2015 | Colombia -

On 11 May 2015, at a ceremony held in the Alabama Room of Geneva Hôtel de Ville, the national coordinator of Geneva Call’s programmes in Colombia and head of the NGO “Compromiso Humano”, Ms. Yolvi Lena Padilla Sepúlveda , was awarded the “Henry Dunant–Field Prize.

The Henry Dunant Foundation citation read, “Yolvi Lena’s exceptional work for the protection of civilian populations in Colombia and her engagement for the promotion of international humanitarian law are fully in line with the humanitarian ideals advocated by Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross and instigator of the first Geneva Convention.”

Her name joins a list of previous laureates including such personalities and organizations as Gabriel Mützenberg, Rony Brauman, the Fondation Hirondelle and Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa.

“It is an honour for me to receive this prize which is attributed to people who have defended international humanitarian law. It shows that determination and commitment can sustainably enhance the circumstances of the civilian populations who are suffering from the conflict in Colombia,” said Ms. Padilla Sepúlveda during the ceremony. “This recognition is an encouragement to continue.”

The laureate has played an essential role in defending international humanitarian law and promoting it to the different actors in the conflict in Colombia, sometimes putting herself at personal risk in order to better defend civilian populations.

Ms. Padilla Sepúlveda’s work has led to important progress in the humanitarian demining of the most conflict-affected areas of the country. She focused her efforts on areas directly contaminated by anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war. She led educational projects that enabled local populations to protect themselves from mine-related risks and to take the necessary measures to avoid accidents and defend their rights.

Finally, thanks to her work, indigenous peoples—such as the Nasa, Pastos, Awa, Sionas, and Ingas— living in remote areas of the country have learned more about humanitarian norms and gained the capacity to protect themselves from the human rights violations committed by the different armed actors in the country.

The “Henry Dunant–Field Prize” rewards individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the study, spread, and renewal of the ideas and achievements of Henry Dunant.

 

Yolvi Lena Padilla Sepúlveda

Yolvi Lena Padilla Sepúlveda is a Colombian psychologist who graduated from the National University of Colombia, in Bogotá. Since 2008, Ms. Sepúlveda has been coordinating Geneva Call’s projects in that country, and she is active in the fields of international humanitarian law, human rights and community protection. She has also worked for a number of Colombian NGOs focusing on protecting women and children who are victims of violence.

Throughout her career, the laureate has strived to bring knowledge of international humanitarian law to the most vulnerable populations.