H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy
See to the United Nations
59th session of the General Assembly
Before the ninety-sixth plenary meeting of the
Declaration by the United Nations of 8 and 9 May as
days of remembrance and reconciliation:
commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the
end of the Second World War
New York, 9 May 2005
The Holy See is grateful to the sponsors of Resolution
59/26 for this opportunity to mark officially the sixtieth anniversary of the
end of the Second World War.
There is no doubt that it was a terrible conflict, and
it is both salutary and sobering to recall that it was the worst of several
unnecessary, man-made global catastrophes that made the twentieth century one of
the most bitter that humanity has ever known.
My delegation salutes the declaration by the United
Nations which sets aside 8 and 9 May as days of remembrance and reconciliation.
Many voices rightly admonish us not to forget, but such voices do not place
guilt at the door of today’s generations; they demand responsibility, reinforced
by a knowledge of the mistakes of the past, and responsibility in view of these
previous catastrophes requires us to develop some considerations.
First of all, among the roots of the Second World War
was the exaltation of state and race, and the proud self-sufficiency of humanity
based upon the manipulation of science, technology and force. The rule of law
was no longer a vehicle for the application of justice, teaching us that, when
man loses sight of his transcendent aspirations, he quickly reduces
himself and others to an object, a number and even a mere commodity.
Secondly, even if we accept that, under some
circumstances, a limited and strictly conditioned use of force could be
inevitable in order to fulfill the responsibility to protect of every State and
of the international community, we are called to be realistic enough to
recognize that peaceful resolutions are possible and no effort should be spared
in achieving them.
Humanity has long pondered the morality of war and the
ethical conduct of combatants. The Secretary-General’s Report In Larger
Freedom urges the Security Council to adopt a resolution on the legitimacy
and legality of the use of force. Recognition of the tragic and devastating
nature of war, and the common responsibility for past and present conflicts,
press us to question not only whether war can be legal and legitimate, but above
all whether it is avoidable. For this reason, the different chapters of the
Secretary-General’s Report should be treated as an ensemble. Global peace and
security will be achieved only if the international community respects human
life and dignity, and is committed to the social and economic development of
every country and every man, woman and child.
Thirdly, the Second World War, as with all the wars of
the 20th century, illustrates how war termination policies and post war
operational planning are essential to the aim of restoring justice and peace and
of protecting. In the past, much attention was rightly paid to the ius ad
bellum, that is the necessary conditions for justifying the use of force,
and to the ius in bello, the legal parameters of ethical behaviour during
war. In the light of the material and moral devastations of World War II and the
nature of war since, the time has now come to focus on and develop a third
dimension of the law of war, that of the ius post bellum, or how to
achieve quickly and effectively the establishment of a just and lasting peace,
which is the only admissible goal for the use of force.
Thus, the existing international legal instruments
covering conduct and activities after war need to be reinforced and extended
with reference to our rapidly changing times, while also taking into
consideration the ethical parameters that the modern conscience and
sensitivities have developed, such as reconciliation, to help all the parties
involved re-knit bonds of friendship and neighbourliness; assurance of the
security and stabilization of nations emerging from war; international
solidarity in the process of socio-economic reconstruction of the fabric of
those societies; restoration of the environment after fighting has ceased; and
justice at every level, since, if force has been employed for justice’s sake,
justice must surely influence every aspect of the peacebuilding process.
Fourth, recently, new emphasis has been placed upon
the role of the UN as a peacebuilder. The Holy See shares the
Secretary-General’s concern that the United Nations system fully address the
challenge of helping countries with the transition from war to lasting peace,
and once again expresses full support for the creation of an intergovernmental
commemoration, therefore, is a welcome reminder of the very raison d'être of the
United Nations. Although nowadays it exercises its functions in a broad variety
of fields, these activities should not distract us from the sine qua non of this
Organization’s existence, that is, peace among nations.
Thank you, Mr President.