Intervention of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Working Methods
New York, 20 October 2015
My delegation wishes to thank you for convening this Open debate on the Security Council’s working methods, and wishes to raise four points, namely:
First, the need for a genuine equity in influence among Member States on the decision-making processes in the various UN bodies, including the Security Council.
Pope Francis, in his Address to the General Assembly on September 25, affirmed that beyond the many achievements of the United Nations, “the experience of the past seventy years has made it clear that reform and adaptation to the times is always necessary in the pursuit of the ultimate goal of granting all countries, without exception, a share in, and a genuine and equitable influence on, decision-making processes.”
My delegation believes that Member States would like to have an equitable share in influence especially in the Security Council, the only UN body with the power to make binding decisions. This calls for greater interactivity; in particular, it requires real open debates and a willingness to take into account the views of the wider membership and of the actors in the various conflicts being considered. Such views can bring greater legitimacy to the Council, helping it to shape better its understanding of crisis situations and improving its ability effectively to respond.
Moreover, in order to show greater consideration to the views of the wider membership, the Council may want to re-examine its practice of first adopting the resolution on a matter that is subsequently debated by the wider UN membership. There are, doubtlessly, good reasons for this practice. However, it makes some of the wider membership wonder if their inputs really matter and if the resolution has already been adopted before they are heard.
Second, the question of transparency that the wider membership demands from this Council. We hear this voice getting stronger lately, not only in the context of the bigger question of the reinvigoration of the work of the United Nations as it turns seventy, but also in the more immediate context of the election of this Organization’s next Secretary General.
In this regard, it is imperative that the Security Council and the General Assembly maintain a transparent working relationship. As laid out in General Assembly resolution A/RES/231, the membership deems that the criteria for qualified candidates, must include “proven leadership and managerial abilities, extensive experience in international relations, and strong diplomatic, communication, and multi-lingual skills,” while considering the equal and fair distribution based on sex and geographical balance.
Third, the question of the fair application of the UN Charter and all international agreements and treaties. My delegation believes that arbitrary interpretations of existing laws and double standards in dealing with the parties in conflicts are some of the underlying causes of feelings of victimization that in turn feed hatred and violence.
Fourth, the United Nations, and this Council in particular, would acquire greater legitimacy and authority if they could discern clear and effective criteria for the application of the principle of the “responsibility to protect” and for the corresponding integration of Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The “responsibility to protect” all peoples from massive atrocities, instances of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is today widely recognized and accepted. Yet it is not always easy to carry out this duty in practice, because of prevailing geopolitical interests and, not least, because its observance often conflicts with a strict literal interpretation of the principle of non-intervention as sanctioned by Paragraph 7 of Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations.
Nonetheless, due to the unacceptable human costs of inaction, the search for effective juridical means for the practical application of this principle must be one of the most urgent priorities of the United Nations. The Holy See strongly supports any initiative and any step towards achieving a more effective and concrete application of the principle of the “responsibility to protect,” especially in cases of mass atrocities.
Thank you, Mr. President.