On October 26, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN gave an intervention at the Fourth Committee of the Seventy-First Session of the General Assembly on Agenda item 51, dedicated to a “Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.
In its statement, the Holy See reiterated Pope Francis’ words to the General Assembly in praise of the UN’s peacekeeping and reconciliation operations and underlined the importance of protecting civilians in peacekeeping mandates insofar as the deliberate targeting of and indiscriminate attacks on civilians are sadly becoming routine within armed conflicts. In addition to mentioning attacks on schools and medical facilities, depriving people of food and basic necessities, and going after journalists and humanitarian workers, the Holy See condemned deliberate attacks against women and girls, including rape. The Responsibility to Protect should frame the UN peacekeeping mandate, it said, so that those exposed to war crimes, genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity are defended by the international community if individual States are incapable of doing so. Formulating clear and effective criteria for applying the Responsibility to Protect in a way respectful of the principle of the sovereign equality of Member States is necessary. The Holy See renewed its call to limit the manufacture, sale and gifting of weapons. It also denounced sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation committed by UN peacekeepers, saying measures to prevent, judge and punish such crimes must be adopted. It finally reiterated the Holy See’s commitment to collaborate in the work of conflict prevention and resolution, and post-conflict stabilization and peace consolidation.
The statement can be found here.