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
60th session of the General Assembly:
UN Secretary General’s Report on the Prevention of Armed Conflict
New York, 7 September 2006

Mr President,

Allow me to express my appreciation to the Secretary-General for this Progress report on the prevention of armed conflict. This Report is an honest appraisal of what has been achieved so far in the area of armed conflict prevention and, above all, of what remains to be done for reality to match rhetoric. Among the many significant issues raised in the Report, I would like to highlight the following:

First, the introduction of a third sphere of preventive action, namely, systemic prevention (§8) is commendable; it would allow the adoption of measures to address causes of conflict which transcend particular States. Evidently, the concept is not new and many measures to curb transnational causes of conflict are already in place. But to underscore the fight against transnational crimes in the context of the prevention of armed conflict is, indeed, welcome. For one, it reminds us that a grave responsibility for many on-going armed conflicts falls on the international arms traffickers and unscrupulous weapons traders, and that illicit arms trade is most often than not funded by drug trafficking and illicit trade on precious materials. In this sense, systemic prevention would mean fighting the root causes of armed conflicts and, indeed, of all forms of violence, including terrorism.

Second, my delegation wishes to welcome the recognition given by the Report to the important role of faith-based organizations and of religious leaders in particular, as agents of change and peaceful coexistence. The Holy See would like to reiterate that its institutions throughout the world are constantly harnessed and engaged on all levels in the promotion of a culture of peace and understanding, as well as in fostering post-conflict healing and reconciliation.

Furthermore, regarding the use of sanctions in support of preventive diplomacy (§§37-38), my delegation presumes that the international community already possesses a good amount of knowledge on this issue, as sanctions have been employed in a number of recent cases. It would be desirable if the Report would touch on the limits of sanctions for humanitarian reasons and the need to limit sanctions to specific items, such as arms and certain financial operations. In fact, some cases have shown that the first victims of sanctions are the victims them-selves of the violent to whom such sanctions were supposedly aimed against.

Finally, the Report states that in the area of conflict prevention the gap between rhetoric and reality remains unacceptable (§4): indeed, at present operational mechanisms and legal instruments effectively to prevent armed conflicts are largely already in place. What seems to be needed is the political will to implement them in a consistent way and in all regions of the world where symptoms of tension surface and threaten the local and international peace and security.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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