Interventions: Statements of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

th General Assembly: Informal meeting of the plenary
to continue an exchange of views on the recommendations contained
in the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change

New York, 31 January 2005

Mr. President,

My delegation would like to congratulate you on convening this informal meeting of the General Assembly for an exchange of views on the Report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

The recommendations of the Report clearly involve the streamlining and adaptation of the structure and working methods of this Organisation. This is a theme that must be considered in the wider context of the reform of global governance as a whole.

My delegation takes the floor, moved by the expectations that the Holy See in these last years has placed in the primary role of international law in promoting the peaceful coexistence and the well being of the world’s peoples, and in the role of the United Nations as their guarantor and driving force.

The document under examination is found at the agenda item relating to the follow up to the Millennium Declaration rather than to the points concerning the reform of the Charter or the strengthening of the UN system, as it was for other recent documents. Such a position seems to indicate that the Report is to be considered a comprehensive and programmatic document, inclined to have a greater impact in the long term.

With regard to the substantial outline and possible structural changes, the Report suggests an internal restructuring exercise involving the Security Council and the General Assembly; the enhancement of the Secretariat as the principal interlocutor; and the reform of ECOSOC through a slightly newer lens, that of the linkage of development and security. My delegation finds the treatment of this last theme particularly interesting, because it applies not only to the relationship between conflict and poverty, but also to the causes of terrorism, the promotion of social rights and the struggle against poverty and unemployment as preventative measures.

The Holy See therefore welcomes the much needed efforts to find adequate criteria for Security Council membership and the updating of the UN electoral system, and is confident that the important and thorough debate of these days will help to create and adopt the formula best suited to reflect the democratic, representative and inclusive character of this Organisation.

Among the concrete elements to help stimulate a rethinking of the UN, the Report contains a concept of security that in many ways coincides with the Holy See’s views on the subject, since it promotes concepts of foresight and prevention, and not just those of protection and intervention. So my delegation is pleased to join the support already expressed by many speakers here for a further discussion on the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission, as it is proposed in the Report, and on its appropriate location within the various UN bodies.

The outline of the Charter, in its purposes and principles, or rather the primary law of the Organisation is not put in doubt by the Report; on the contrary it remains intact. In the past, when the Holy See addressed reform, it always recognised the irreplaceable role of the principles which are the basis for the UN’s functioning, such as those found in Article 2 of the Charter, apt constantly to improve the response to the ever changing international situation, and to lead to a legally binding framework for the peaceful and equitable resolution of international disputes.

For this reason, the Holy See is pleased to add its voice to those commending the Panel for taking up the question of the use of force and the right to self-defence. In this sense, we hope that there will be further discussion with regard to the use of force along the lines expressed in recommendation 56 of the Report, whose criteria of legitimacy are particularly well-conceived.

The Panel declares itself in favour of maintaining intact Article 51 of the Charter on the right to self-defence. In this connection, my delegation would like to restate that legitimate defence must place particular focus on people and their safety. Every state has a responsibility to protect its own people but, when it is unable or unwilling to do so, that responsibility should be taken up by the wider international community. Many times, during recent conflicts, the Holy See has had occasion to repeat this conviction, when “humanitarian intervention” was talked of as a kind of legitimate defence, and such an intervention was presented as an obligation on the international community in order to guarantee the survival of individuals and communities in the face of the action or inaction of a state or group of states.

It is my delegation’s belief that the proper reform of these institutions will invest the UN with the necessary authority, credibility and legitimacy to act more firmly for the peace and well being of all.

Thank you, Mr President.


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