Intervention of Monsignor Simon Kassas
Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
During the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on
The Respect to the Principles and Purposes of the Charter of the United Nations
as Key Element for the Maintenance of International Peace and Security
New York, 15 February 2016
My delegation extends to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela its thanks for bringing this topic to the attention of the Security Council.
As extremist ideologies grow within the human community, giving rise to terrorist groups and various non-state actors, it is important to look closely at the thoughts of the United Nations founding members as they were reeling from the devastation of two world wars in less than half a century. Their desire to save future generations from the scourge of war and to forbid war as an instrument of foreign policy speaks to a moral and ethical value to be highly esteemed as integral to human development.
When Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly last September 25, he spoke of the means by which the hopes enshrined by the UN’s founding members in the Charter would be realized or frustrated. He stated, “When the Charter of the United Nations is respected and applied with transparency and sincerity, and without ulterior motives, as an obligatory reference point of justice and not as a mean of masking spurious intentions, peaceful results will be obtained. When, on the other hand, the norm is considered as an instrument to be used whenever it proves favorable, and to be avoided when it is not, a true Pandora’s Box is opened, releasing uncontrollable forces that gravely harm defenseless populations, the cultural milieu and even the biological environment.”
In his address to the General Assembly last October 2nd, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, suggested four areas of reflection that could be useful to furthering the mission and commitment of the United Nations, including two that are especially relevant to the work of this Council: the “responsibility to protect” and the respect for international law.
What is needed, as Archbishop Gallagher highlighted, is a genuine and transparent application of Article 2 of the UN Charter, which established the principle of non-intervention, excluded all unilateral force against another member of the United Nations, and demanded full respect for lawfully constituted and recognized governments. Pacta sunt servanda, he said, and Article 2 of the Charter has definitively banned concepts like “preventive war,” attempts to redesign geographic areas and peoples under the pretext of a principle of security, or interventions of third party States in favor of one side in a situation of civil conflict. He added, however, that Article 2 cannot be used as an alibi to excuse grave violations of human rights. Where such violations persist and further intervention is considered necessary, there is no other recourse than to apply the measures set forth in Chapters 6 and 7 of the Charter.
As the Holy See has indicated in previous interventions on the topic of war, hidden beneath the rhetoric of impunity against civilians and the difficulties of providing humanitarian aid to those suffering, is the harsh reality that the industrial complexes of the world are providing weapons and munitions either for money on the open or black market, or perhaps as gifts to client groups, governments or non-state actors. The arms trade must be restrained. Rather than attaining peace and stability, weapons proliferation has resulted in more deaths and injuries and has produced waves of fleeing refugees. To market and sell weapons for self-defense is one thing, but the aggressive nature of current technologies is cause for grave ethical concern. Indiscriminately to kill civilians is a heinous crime. As technological advances are applied to weaponry, it appears to my delegation that we may know more about killing than we do about providing for the living. Have the words of the Charter to save future generations from the scourge of war been fulfilled? Each of us in the Chamber knows in the depths of our being the answer to that question.
Thank you, Mr. President.