Ambassador Victor García Toma in action © MISSION OF PERU TO THE UN IN NEW YORK

What are Peru’s diplomatic priorities?
Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Victor García Toma reveals more about his country and the Peruvian mission
1 May 2024

Your Excellency, please could you tell us about your career and what led you to your current position?

Throughout my life, I’ve had the privilege of exercising both my passion for university teaching and commitment to public service. I’ve been a professor of constitutional law for over four decades and had the honor of being the Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Lima. Besides teaching, I’ve published around 16 books in my field of expertise. My vocation for public service led me to assume roles of responsibility, such as Secretary-General of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Justice and Chair of the Constitutional Court, and Minister of Justice.

These were challenges I undertook with dedication and commitment, fully aware of how governmental acts and decisions indelibly mark our lives and those around us. In my extensive career, I also had the opportunity to engage in roles related to international relations. For instance, I served as ad-hoc Judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and was a professor at the Peruvian Diplomatic Academy. Both experiences broadened my professional horizon and, in a way, prepared me for my current responsibilities.

In May 2023, I was appointed as a member of the Advisory Commission responsible for providing specialized advice on constitutional matters to the Presidency of the Republic, in which I contributed to the strengthening and legitimacy of the democratic regime and the constitutional rule of law.

Based on this trajectory, deeply rooted in democratic principles and values, the rule of law, and unwavering respect for human rights, I decided to accept the call to assume my current position. It’s a new challenge I undertake with the same commitment, as the principles and values I’ve mentioned align clearly with the fundamental pillars upheld by the United Nations. Alongside my colleagues, I embrace the challenge of practicing and exercising what we preach and fulfilling our responsibilities in line with our shared beliefs.

The world-renowned Incan citadel, Machu Picchu © Freepik

What are Peru’s main priorities at the UN in New York?

We aim to foster an international environment where geopolitical interests do not hinder the development of countries. This environment, in turn, will be conducive to our populations’ development and ensure that no one is discriminated against based on their origin, race, sex, language, creed, opinion, economic condition, or any other characteristic.

We are proud founding members of the United Nations, faithfully and enthusiastically embracing our commitment to the international community. This dedication has led us to hold important roles within the organization. We are currently members of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Economic and Social Council, the Commission for Social Development, and the Commission on Population and Development.

We uphold a historic commitment to the collective security system, with a particular focus on peacekeeping operations. In this endeavor, we operate on two fronts: from New York, contributing to proposals that enhance their efficiency and effectiveness, and on the ground, we aim to increase the participation of Peruvian personnel in peacekeeping operations.

In this regard, we rank as the second-largest contributor of military forces from our region, and we stand out by achieving one of the highest percentages on the gender parity indicators set by the United Nations for contingent members, military observers, and staff officers.

How has the country recovered after socio-political unrest in the last few years?

The swift reaction from our citizens and democratic institutions has allowed us to preserve our constitutional course when the democratic order of my country was threatened. We firmly believe that building citizenship and achieving development can only be realized within a framework of rule of law, separation of powers, and respect for rights.

We remain true to the conviction that democracy should be understood as a form of political organization and cultural way of being, aimed at fostering an order of harmonious coexistence without compromising the free development of individual personality.

The United Nations stands as a valuable partner for paving the way toward the construction of such a society. Thus, in May 2023, the Peruvian government agreed to the implementation of the project: “Decentralized institutional strengthening for the prevention and management of political and social conflict, as well as for the protection of human rights in Peru.’

This project aims to promote high-level and decentralized political dialogue, with a view to strengthening the institutions responsible for managing social conflicts and defending human rights. This will contribute to consolidating an effective and decentralized governance system, as well as developing early warnings for conflict prevention.

Peru is a country with vast mountainous landscapes, home to the world-famous UNESCO site, Machu Picchu. How do you hope to continue the success of the tourism industry and attract people to the country?

First and foremost, I would like to highlight the warmth and hospitality of the Peruvian people in welcoming visitors. To quote some figures: during 2023, Peru welcomed more than 2.5 million international tourists, marking a 25.7% increase from the previous year. This growth —which surpassed our initial expectations— reflects the recovery of our tourism industry after the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism is fundamental to our economy as it generates income, foreign exchange, and employment. Therefore, the Peruvian government works in coordination with the private sector to reach and potentially surpass the pre-pandemic figures, in which we recorded up to 4.4 million foreign tourists. Part of the government’s efforts is focused on improving infrastructure and services throughout the country, which, in addition to benefiting our population, will provide greater facilities for tourists.

As you rightly mentioned, Peru is globally recognized for Machu Picchu, but also features other valuable archaeological sites and natural areas. We have an extensive marine-coastal area along our coastline with the Pacific Ocean. The Andes Mountain Range crosses our territory, tracing beautiful landscapes of mountains, valleys, and lakes that amaze visitors. Moreover, the Amazon rainforest, which acts as a lung for the world and is an ecosystem of unparalleled natural wealth, comprises 60% of our territory.

Gastronomy is another important tourist attraction. Several restaurants located in Peru have received worldwide recognition and awards. Moreover, the gastronomic experience is not limited to tasting in restaurants but represents a broader cultural experience. For example, in December 2023, UNESCO inscribed the practices and meanings associated with the preparation and consumption of ceviche, an expression of traditional Peruvian cuisine, on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

And I would also like to highlight two significant activities that the Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN is organizing this year. For the first time, we will celebrate the International Day of Potato on 30 May, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly last December through a resolution presented by Peru. Over 4,000 potato varieties grow in Peru and we aim to underscore the importance of this tuber for global agriculture, economic development, food security, and nutrition. We hope this event will not only celebrate these contributions but also inspire participants to visit Peru and experience the diversity of our potato varieties firsthand.

The second event will be an exhibition called “Itinerant Pucará Bull, Ambassador of the Peruvian High Plateau.” The “Small Bull of Pucará” (torito de Pucará in Spanish) is a distinctive ceramic piece from the district of Pucará, located in the Puno region in southern Peru. We will showcase approximately 50 pieces crafted by ceramic artisans dedicated to preserving this ancestral pottery tradition.

* Julián Ginzo is a member of the Editorial Board of UN Today.
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