21 March 2016
The Prevention and Resolution of Conflicts in the Great Lakes Region
As delivered in New York on March 21, 2016

Intervention of Archbishop Bernardito Auza,
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
United Nations Security Council Open Debate on
The Prevention and Resolution of Conflicts in the Great Lakes Region

New York, 21 March 2016

Mr. President,

The Holy See commends the Presidency of Angola for bringing the subject of the Prevention and Resolution of Conflicts in the African Great Lakes Region to the attention of the international community.

Pope Francis, during his visit in the Great Lakes Region last November, found inspiration in the motto of the Central African Republic that exults the values of Unity, Dignity and Work.  The Pope sees in this trilogy an expression of the aspirations of each Central African and, indeed, of each of the inhabitants of the Great Lakes Region.

The Region continues to suffer from decades of multiple local and regional conflicts fueled by, among others, political instability and bad governance, corruption and extreme poverty, ethnic divisions and exploitative use of the abundant natural resources. My delegation believes that these three values of unity, dignity and work are pillars of any prosperous society and thus could greatly facilitate solutions to the complex of causes of armed conflicts and underdevelopment in the Region. No solutions to the Region’s many problems would be possible if there are divisions instead of unity, grave violations of human rights instead of respecting the dignity of all, and extreme poverty instead of dignified work for all.

Unity is a cardinal value for the harmony of peoples in all their diversity. It drives away the fear of the other tribes and communities. It recognizes the plurality of political views and religious beliefs. It eschews corruption and greed that endanger justice and solidarity. Translating this fundamental value of unity in diversity into reality is a constant challenge, one that demands creativity, generosity, self-sacrifice and respect for others.

Then, dignity. Mutual respect and solidarity are possible only if everyone recognizes the inherent equal dignity of all.  Those who have the means to enjoy a decent life, rather than being concerned with privileges, seek to help the neediest to attain dignified living conditions.

Finally, labor. Decent work for all would greatly improve the lives of all in the Region. Addressing the Central Africans in Bangui, Pope Francis exhorted all the countries in the Region to improve themselves by wisely exploiting their many resources that make the Region “one of the two lungs of mankind on account of its exceptionally rich biodiversity.”

The international community must support the countries of the Region to stop the abundant natural resources from being a curse instead of being a blessing, from being exploited in favor of a privileged few instead of being the common good of all. It is no doubt superfluous to underline the capital importance of honest administration on the part of public authorities.

Mr. President,

Stable and legitimate governments require electoral processes that are free, credible, inclusive and transparent to discourage recourse to arms. Governments and all stakeholders in the Region must be helped to negotiate and deal with the various issues at stake in the most impartial way possible, having in mind only the common good of all the citizens.

The Region is destabilized by the vast proliferation of arms and armed groups fighting in the territory. These groups must be offered credible reasons to disarm and to commit themselves to cooperate in the development of their respective countries. The international community must assume a larger role in programs aimed at controlling the legal and illegal arms trade. The Holy See expresses its appreciation for the countries that have already committed themselves to this path.

A greater investment in preventive diplomacy must accompany all efforts. The priority of the diplomatic activity of the Holy See is preventive action geared toward safeguarding the inviolable dignity of every human person, protecting fundamental human rights, promoting education and health care for all, and fostering the identity of each people.

The grave problem of the recruitment of youth and children by armed groups and terrorist organizations must be decisively contrasted through investments in both education and job opportunities that could offer the young hope for a better future.

Mr. President,

Pope Francis expresses deep appreciation for all that the international community has been doing, and calls upon all to continue along the path of unity, dignity and work to help the countries in the Region achieve disarmament, prosperity and sound administration at all levels.

Thank you, Mr. President.