June 25, 2018
Comprehensive review of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa

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

Security Council Debate on
Maintenance of International Peace and Security
Comprehensive review of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa

New York, 25 June 2018

Mr. President,

The Holy See thanks the Presidency of the Russian Federation for convening this debate focusing on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, which are witnessing an unprecedented series of conflicts and crises, causing death to thousands and inflicting untold sufferings on millions of civilians, as well as provoking a cascade of challenges and crises beyond the region.

The Holy See wishes to avail itself of this occasion to urge the Security Council to throw the full weight of the authority and powers that the United Nations Charter has vested upon it to find and agree on enduring political solutions to the conflicts in the region.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a prime example in which decisive action by the Security Council and the international community is needed to prevent further degeneration of the situation. The Holy See continues to support a two-State solution, which would achieve peaceful coexistence between a viable Palestinian State and Israel, with secure and recognized borders. The two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the only viable peace plan that would allow both nations to live side by side in peace. Yet facts on the ground seem to indicate that there is more determination to tear apart peace plans instead of fostering them. Leaders on both sides bear the heaviest responsibility in guiding their people in the direction of peace and not of deeper conflict.

This Council must act to protect the two-State solution, thereby decisively supporting the birth of an independent Palestinian State and assuring the State of Israel of its full right to peace and security. The Holy See calls on both Israel and Palestine to demonstrate wisdom, responsibility and the political will needed to reach a historic peace agreement that would meet the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.

Regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, which beyond doubt holds a very special place not only in the hearts of the inhabitants of Jerusalem but also for the followers of the three monotheistic religions throughout the world, my Delegation wishes to recall the obligation of all Nations to respect the historical status quo of the Holy City, in accordance with the relevant UN Resolutions. Moreover, the Holy See wishes to reiterate the conviction that the safeguarding of the identity and significance of the Holy City can be ensured by way of an internationally guaranteed statute, aiming toward a future of peace and reconciliation for the entire region.

Mr. President,

We are witnesses to a deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and North Africa and to the failure to achieve any political progress. Similarly, the exodus of refugees from Syria, Libya and other troubled areas in the region has brought political problems, provoked populist sentiments, and outbursts of xenophobia in many host countries around the world.

The rule of law is fundamental to any political solution of the conflicts and to the achievement and maintenance of harmonious coexistence among individuals, communities and nations in the region. It necessarily includes respect for religious freedom and equality before the law based on the principle of citizenship, regardless of race, ethnic origin or religion. How many members of ethnic and religious minorities in the region could have been spared of all the atrocities in recent years if the rule of law were effectively observed! The countries concerned must play their part in fostering a culture of the rule of law in the region.

Mr. President,

The Holy See believes that there is an evident and inherent link between respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, on the one hand, and the maintenance of international peace and security, on the other. Respect for and protection of human rights, especially those of minority populations, contributes to efforts to address the root causes and drivers of instability, thereby contributing to the prevention and resolution of conflicts and to sustaining peace and favoring development.

Responding early to violations of international humanitarian law, as well as to violations and abuses of human rights, can effectively prevent conflicts before they become a threat to regional and international peace and security. When conflicts do occur, accountability for such violations is vital for both justice and reconciliation.

Mr. President,

In the past, this Council has shown unity in the face of threats to international peace and security. It needs to show once again that same determination and unity in front of today’s very grave threats. The world awaits its leadership and wants it to succeed in putting an end to the conflicts in the Middle East, in North Africa and beyond.

Thank you, Mr. President.