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
Post-conflict Peacebuilding: Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture
New York, 23 February 2016
My delegation wishes to thank the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for convening this Open Debate on “Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture.”
Eleven years ago, drawing on the experience of the first 50 years of the United Nations, the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change identified “a key institutional gap: there was no place in the United Nations system explicitly designed to avoid State collapse and the slide to war or to assist countries in their transition from war to peace” (Report, paragraph 261). Consequently, following the 2005 World Summit Outcome document, the General Assembly and the Security Council created the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), as a subsidiary body of both UN organs. Afterwards the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) was put in place and a Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) was also created.
The PBC and the PBSO should be praised for the work accomplished in many countries [-Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and the Central African Republic-], while the PBF deserves a generous and constant financial support from the UN members.
However, the conclusions of the Secretary General’s Advisory Group on the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture show the complexity and difficulty of peacebuilding efforts. The ability of the PBC to engage with the host government, as well as civil society and the most important stakeholders on the ground, in the conduct and implementation of coordinated actions remains crucial. In addition, there are several factors largely dependent on the Security Council’s, and other UN bodies’, substantive and coordinated engagement on each situation. Furthermore, the ultimate success of peacebuilding relies on the attention given to the PBC by the whole International Community.
Appropriately, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development address the special need of financial, trade and development assistance for countries in post-conflict situation. Goal 16 of the same 2030 Agenda is devoted to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, and all its targets are relevant for situations of post-conflict. However, in his address to the 70th session of the General Assembly, Pope Francis that “…solemn commitments… are not enough, even though they are a necessary step toward solutions. …Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures…” not forgetting “that, above and beyond our plans and programs, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights” (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to United Nations Organization, 25 September 2015).
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognizes “the importance for achieving sustainable development of delivering quality education to all girls and boys” including “migrant and refugee children, and those in conflict and post-conflict situations, and providing safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all” (N. 78). The same Agenda stresses that “Capacity development will be integral to achieving the post-2015 development agenda”. It calls “for enhanced international support and establishment of multi-stakeholder partnerships for implementing effective and targeted capacity building”, especially“in countries in conflict and post-conflict situations” (N. 115). In his speech to the General Assembly Pope Francis noted that integral human development “presupposes and requires the right to education – also for girls (excluded in certain places) – which is ensured first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of families to educate their children, as well as the right of churches and social groups to support and assist families in the education of their children. Education conceived in this way is the basis for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda”.
The Holy See, as a subject of International Law, has always been a promoter of peace between countries, actively participating in the work of the UN, while the local Catholic churches have always been a factor of reconciliation at the national level. Churches, as well as many faith-based organizations and development NGOs, have always been at the vanguard of pacification and reconstruction of regions and countries struck by wars and conflicts.
Moreover, the almost 100,000 elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities throughout the world, that are run by Catholic organizations, are an essential contribution to building and maintaining peace. The Catholic healthcare network encompasses more than 25,000 hospitals, dispensaries, clinics, homes for the elderly, the chronically ill or disabled, orphanages and childcare centers. All are a part of maintaining locally stable and secure environments essential for the comprehensive approach to peacebuilding as recommended in the 2015 Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture.
The actions of the Holy See, and of Catholic institutions worldwide, are fully consistent with the pleas of this Chamber, and other United Nations fora, to limit the use of arms and implement strategies of dialogue and negotiation to bridge the way to peaceful co-existence, in diversity, and to use the world’s industrial might and technological prowess to bring about the peacebuilding aspirations of all.
In his recent visit to Mexico, Pope Francis addressed the civil authorities and diplomatic corps (13 February 2016) and discussed the building blocks of peace. He said: “Leaders of social, cultural and political life have the particular duty to offer all citizens the opportunity to be worthy contributors of their own future, within their families and in all areas were human social interaction takes place. In this way, they help citizens to have real access to the material and spiritual goods, which are indispensable: adequate housing, dignified employment, food, true justice, effective security, a healthy and peaceful environment.”
It seems to my delegation that these words of Pope Francis are of the very essence of the architecture of peacebuilding, which we are discussing here today.
Thank you, Mr. President.