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Colombia: Foreign Relations
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Relations > Relations with the United States


For much of the nation's history, Colombians focused more consistently on domestic issues and political personalities than on world affairs. In the nineteenth century, Colombia limited its involvement in foreign affairs to sporadic border disputes with immediate neighbors (Venezuela, Panama, Peru, and Brazil). Colombia and Venezuela began disputing boundaries after the breakup of Gran Colombia (Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador) in 1830. A League of Nations commission resolved the conflict in 1934, however, by suggesting a resolution that returned the disputed area to Colombia. Brazil and Colombia reached agreement on a border dispute in 1928.

Colombia broadened its foreign policy after World War II, becoming active among the Latin American states and small powers in general. It was an important participant in the 1945 San Francisco Conference creating the United Nations (UN) and was a leading opponent of the big-power veto in the Security Council. Colombia argued successfully for a primary role for regional organizations, whose recognition was secured under Article 51 of the UN Charter. Colombia also played an important role in creating the Organization of American States (OAS) in Bogotá in 1948. Former Colombian president Lleras Camargo was the OAS's first secretary general (1948-54).

Nevertheless, even in the post-World War II era, Colombia continued to view foreign policy within a limited context. Whenever Colombia initiated international actions, they were usually meant to complement more important national goals and were seen as extensions of domestic policy. After World War II, Colombia's foreign policy emphasized economic relations and support for collective security through the OAS and the UN. Accordingly, Colombia pursued only limited objectives in bilateral international security and global politics, usually preferring multilateral diplomatic approaches. Colombia's approach to security issues has been characterized by a willingness to settle disputes peacefully through recourse to international law and regional and international security organizations.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Colombia was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 132 of 188


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