April 26, 2018
Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
United Nations

at the Plenary of the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
New York, 26 April 2018

Mr. President,

I would like to commend the President of the General Assembly for having convened at such a crucial time this High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.

Peacebuilding is one of the most important activities of the United Nations and thus it deserves the full attention of the international community. The Holy See therefore believes that the concept of “Sustaining Peace” should be at the core of our efforts at the United Nations to prevent conflicts and sustain peace. It encompasses all the dimensions of prevention and peace, namely, conflict prevention, effective peacebuilding, addressing the root causes of conflicts, and ensuring non-recurrence if conflict had erupted. If prevention is the priority, we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to sustaining peace.

Mr. President,

The Holy See would like to underline five priorities in Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace:

First, the United Nations can and should recommit itself to, and scale up, its peacebuilding efforts, including through ensuring a unified, across-the-board delivery of action, developing effective transition and exit strategies, continuous analysis, stronger synergies and coherence, and constant adjustment of responses.

Second, as an integral part of preventive diplomacy, the international community should focus on institutional and capacity building in States where there are situations of potential or impending conflicts. This step is also key in safeguarding successful transitions from conflict to lasting peace. Strengthening the resilience of States, building legitimate, accountable and effective institutions, and consolidating the rule of law are long-term endeavors, which require national leadership and responsibility and sustained international support. They likewise call for holistic approaches and the identification of specific destabilizing factors, such as a lack of accountability, corruption, and unaddressed grievances and disputes, including those regarding property, land ownership and access to vital resources.

Third, to build and sustain peace, the illicit flow and accumulation of weapons must be firmly addressed. Ending arms trafficking and illicit financing that directly or indirectly contribute to corruption and to the commission of atrocity crimes are essential elements to sustaining peace. In addition, demobilization and reintegration programs and assistance in security sector reform not only create a safer and more conducive environment for sustaining peace, but also offer incentives to former combatants to become a part of a peaceful solution.  As former combatants are reintegrated, it is essential that they be properly vetted and re-trained so that their former victims do not feel threatened by their new roles in the community. Without these steps, their reintegration will undercut trust in the institutions, as well as in justice itself, with inevitable negative consequences for building a lasting peace.

Fourth, inclusivity is a crucial aspect of sustainable peace. Conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes and efforts must involve all sectors of society. Women must play an active role through the whole spectrum of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding. Broad consultations and participative mechanisms that exclude no group or segment of the society consolidate the legitimacy of the State and foster trust among all its citizens. Conversely, the absence of inclusivity threatens peace and reconciliation processes and the stability of the State itself. By supporting the establishment of inclusive partnerships at the national level, the Peacebuilding Commission can strengthen the full involvement of marginalized and excluded persons and groups. The participation of all citizens in peacebuilding helps lead to inclusive agreements and lasting peace and stability.

Fifth and finally, the success of the transition from conflict to building and sustaining peace demands that justice and accountability be most seriously addressed. Justice and legal accountability are essential vectors of reconciliation, not its opposite. National Governments clearly have the primary responsibility to prosecute and punish those responsible for atrocities. If they fail to do so, however, or are unable to fulfill their responsibilities, the International Criminal Court must play its full role. Failure to ensure justice and to put an end to impunity could sabotage post-conflict peacebuilding efforts and eventually rekindle conflicts, arresting development and violating human rights.

Mr. President,

My Delegation would like to express its appreciation for the accomplishments of UN missions in preventing or ending conflicts that afflict many regions of the world, thereby greatly contributing to building sustainable peace and stability that allows development and respect for human rights to flourish. The Holy See reiterates its commitment to collaborate, wherever possible, in the work of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and building sustainable peace.

Thank you, Mr. President.