By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, addressed participants in the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace at the United Nations headquarters in New York, which took place on April 24-25, 2018. The Archbishop presented five priorities on behalf of the Holy See.
Increase peacebuilding efforts
The Archbishop stated that the United Nations “can and should recommit itself to, and scale up, its peacebuilding efforts”. Unified and broad action, effective transitional strategies, analysis, better and more coherent synergy, and constant adjustment were among his recommendations.
Identifying beforehand the presence of factors, such as corruption, that destabilize nations would lead toward preventive diplomacy. Where potential conflicts are foreseen, “the international community should focus on institutional and capacity building”, the Archbishop said.
Address arms trafficking
Archbishop Auza called the end of both the trafficking of arms and the illicit funding behind it to be “essential elements to sustaining peace”. He added that former combatants can be invited to “become a part of a peaceful solution” through “demobilization and reintegration” strategies.
Involving all sectors of society
Lasting peace can only be attained when all sectors of society are involved. The Archbishop specifically mentioned women whom he said “must play an active role” along the entire spectrum of conflict prevention and resolution. He reinforced this priority saying, “The participation of all citizens in peacebuilding helps lead to inclusive agreements and lasting peace and stability”.
Justice and accountability
Unless justice and accountability are “seriously addressed”, successful transition from conflict to peace is not attainable. “Justice and legal accountability are essential vectors of reconciliation, not its opposite”, Archbishop Auza said. In the absence of prosecution and punishment at the local level, he said that “the International Criminal Court must play its full role”.
Conflicts in the Middle East
In a separate address to the Security Council Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East on April 26, Archbishop Auza addressed the ongoing conflicts in that region.
Archbishop Auza reiterated Pope Francis’ appeal to negotiation in Syria as the only way “that can bring about peace and not death and destruction”. It is the UN Security Council, he said, that is the “key actor” ensuring that all efforts to end the conflict in Syria are guided by international law.
He concurred with the Secretary General’s definition of the war in Yemen as a “stupid war”, calling it the world’s largest humanitarian, entirely man-made catastrophe. He called on the international community to “give much greater attention to this conflict, where civilians are paying a huge price in a senseless war that has been overshadowed by other conflicts in the region”.
Israel and Palestine
Calling for “a renewed commitment” for completely violence-free peace talks leading toward a Two-State solution, the Archbishop reiterated the Holy See’s position. He stated that it is the only “viable way of fulfilling the aspirations for peaceful co-existence among Israelis and Palestinians alike”. Regarding Jerusalem, he stated that the Holy See sees it as an “obligation of all Nations to respect the historical status quo of the Holy City”.