Intervention At the High-level ministerial event on “Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Peace Operations”
Intervention by H.E. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary For Relations With States

Intervention of H.E. Archbishop Paul Gallagher
Secretary for Relations with States
At the High-level ministerial event on
“Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE) Peace Operations”

New York 1 October 2015

Mr. Moderator,


For me personally it is a singular honour to meet for the first time the OSCE and I would like to take this opportunity to greet you, Mr. Secretary General and all the distinguished Colleagues, Foreign Ministers of the OSCE participating States, gathered around this table.


Allow me also express my gratitude to H.E. Mr. Ivica Dačić, Chairperson-in-Office and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, for the invitation to this event, as well as to the OSCE Troika Ministers, H.E. Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, and H.E. Mr. Didier Burkhalter, Foreign Minister of the Swiss Confederation for their contributions.

I also wish to manifest once again the strong support of the Holy See for the process which was set in motion in Helsinki on 1 August 1975 at the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and in which the Holy See was an active member from the very beginning. The Helsinki Final Act, signed by the nations of Europe, together with Canada and the United States, must be considered as one of the most significant instruments of international dialogue. On that occasion all of the thirty-five signatory countries came to an agreement on one basic fact, namely, that peace is not ensured when arms fall silent; rather, peace is the result of cooperation between individuals on the one hand and societies themselves on the other, and is also the result of respect for certain ethical imperatives.

The famous “ten principles” which preface the Helsinki Final Act constitute the basis upon which the peoples of Europe, together with Canada, the USA and the Central Asia republics, having been the victims of so many wars and divisions, now wish to consolidate and preserve peace, so that future generations may be able to live in harmony and security – “from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

As it is known, it is not the role of the Holy See to intervene in issues of a purely political or military nature and neither does it wish to do so. Nevertheless, the Holy See follows with great attention the current discussions on how the OSCE as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter can contribute to maintaining international peace and security, especially with regard to the pacific settlement of disputes. Article 52 of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter already makes provision for regional arrangements to resolve disputes and maintain peace, even if it gives no precise definition of what these arrangements are to be. In recent history we have seen several regional organizations and arrangements which have played a significant role in cooperation with the United Nations, especially in the field of peacekeeping, within the framework of chapter VI, art. 33, but including also the use of military or police forces under the UN flag, if accepted by the parties[1].

In consideration of its particular nature and function, the Holy See supports and encourages constructive dialogue in search of better solutions and instruments, within the legal framework of the United Nations, which can contribute to maintaining peace.

Following with attention the efforts undertaken by the OSCE to consolidate and preserve peace, and sharing the concerns over the deterioration, in many sectors, of those conditions of trust and security that have constituted the basis of relations and negotiations among participating States over the past years, I would like to stress, at the same time, that dialogue on the aspects of security has never been interrupted and I am hopeful that it can increase and, with the good will of all involved, become more efficacious.

In regard to the current situation in the OSCE area, I wish to make an appeal to all the participating States, who have solemnly subscribed to the Helsinki Final Act, to ensure that their actions be inspired by that Final Act and that they might constitute not a regression from, but rather a revitalization of, those measures which, in the not so distant past, contributed to stability in the OSCE area.

In the context of disturbing events that over the last years have undermined security in the OSCE area, the politico-military tools of the Organization designed to defuse conflicts and restore a climate of trust and confidence between the participating States have been tested in an unparalleled manner. Unfortunately, evidence shows that even the best tools are ineffective if there is insufficient political will to implement them in good faith. We can only regret that, even recently, non-implementation of valuable tools that our Organization possesses, such as the Vienna Document or the Code of Conduct, has prevented the emergence of the conditions necessary for the settlement of the ongoing crisis.

Attempting to resolve disputes with the use of arms rather than by a sincere effort to find negotiated solutions is a sad development, as has frequently been noted by successive Popes. Pope Francis himself stated in his first Message for the World Day of Peace: “I appeal forcefully to all those who sow violence and death by force of arms: in the person you today see simply as an enemy to be beaten, discover rather your brother or sister, and hold back your hand! Give up the way of arms and go out to meet the other in dialogue, pardon and reconciliation, in order to rebuild justice, trust, and hope around you!” (Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, n° 7; January 1, 2014).

Finally, may all of us around this table muster the political will to continue to work for peace and justice and to identify the most adequate instruments and solutions to this end, while making the best use of all the tools that are already in our hands.

Thank you, Mr. Moderator.

[1] In Liberia, UNOMIL (ONU) was the first UN peacekeeping mission undertaken in cooperation with a peacekeeping operation already established by another organization: the  ECOMOG (Military Observer Group from the Economic Community of West African States - ECOWAS) - 1990 - 1997. Some other examples of cooperation are  MISAB-OUA and MINURCA-ONU in Central African Republic; UNMIBH-NATO-OSCE in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and UNOMIG-OSCE-CIS in Georgia.

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