General Assembly Cites Need for ‘Moderate Voices’ from all Religions To Work Together in Building More Secure, Peaceful World
General Assembly Cites Need for ‘Moderate Voices’ from all Religions To Work Together in Building More Secure, Peaceful World
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
57th & 58th Meetings (AM & PM)
General Assembly Cites Need for ‘Moderate Voices’ from all Religions
To Work Together in Building More Secure, Peaceful World
Resolution among Consensus Texts on Advancing Culture of Peace;
Assembly Also Adopts Text on Memorial for Victims of Transatlantic Slave Trade
Tackling an array of topics that spanned from augmenting civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict to infusing a culture of peace into multilateral relations, the General Assembly today adopted seven consensus resolutions, including on the need for “voices of moderation” to promote tolerance and understanding, and combat extremism.
By the text of the latter – which was entitled “promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”, and which was introduced jointly by the representatives of the Philippines and Pakistan - the Assembly recognized the commitment of all religions to peace, and the need for voicesof moderation to build amore secure and peaceful world.
Reaffirming the solemn commitment of all States to fulfill their obligations to promote universal respect for, and observance and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Assembly also underlined the importance of moderation as a value within societies for countering extremism and for further contributing to the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.
“Our diversity is a source of our strength”, said the representative of Cambodia, who spoke on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on that topic. The inclusion of language on moderation was most welcome, he said, adding that a “Global Movement of the Moderates” had been established at the eighteenth ASEAN Summit in April. The initiative recognized that the true divide in the world today was not between East and West, or between developed and developing countries, but between moderates and extremists of all religions and beliefs.
In related resolutions on advancing the culture of peace, the Assembly also designated 5 December as the International Day of Charity, and proclaimedthe period 2013-2022 as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures. By the text designating the latter – which built upon the positive outcomes of the Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, in 2010 - the Assembly also urged Member States to consider initiatives for practical action towards the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance and other peaceful values.
Also discussed at length during today’s meeting was a report of the Secretary-General on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, which was introduced by the representative of Tunisia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
“We underline the necessity for the United Nations to make full use of South-South cooperation agreements in the development of civilian capacities in post-conflict countries”, she said, describing the frequent dearth of such capacities – namely, the skills and expertise necessary to secure a sustainable peace – in States emerging from conflict.
The report before the Assembly took a “demand-driven” approach to the issue, she said. However, all assessments of civilian capacity demand must be undertaken jointly with national stakeholders. Indeed, “national ownership is the core of all principles for reviewing civilian capacities”, and national capacity building and inclusivity must be at the core of the United Nations peacebuilding process in general.
“Successful and sustainable transitions require mobilizing wide-ranging civilian capacities, skills and expertise”, said the representative of the United States, adding that societies emerging from conflict or managing transitions faced innumerable challenges. Applauding the Secretary-General for his initiative on strengthening civilian capacity outlined in the report, she cited a number of cases – such as the recent conflict and transition in Libya – where the United Nations’ flexible approach to planning had helped the Organization tailor its support to the genuine needs of the people.
That approach had allowed for a Libyan-led transition process, she continued, echoing other speakers that, too often in the past, “supply, rather than demand” had guided post-conflict assistance. Instead, civilian capacity must be “timely, tailored to the context and nimble”, she stressed.
“We know, all too well, that the end of conflict does not automatically mean flourishing peace”, agreed the representative of the Republic of Korea. The “fragility” of post-conflict countries could only be surmounted when the people themselves become masters of their fate, and, without civilian capacities, sustainable peace and long-term development would remain a “far-fetched dream”. He agreed that country-owned and country-led approaches in the planning and implementation of civilian capacity building must be at the centre of all efforts.
However, he noted that the United Nations’ peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development components were not presently being harmonized in an effective manner. Rather than taking a fragmented approach, those efforts should be synchronized. Civilian capacity must be promoted at the start of, or even before, the peacekeeping stage in order to “avoid missed opportunities and wasted time or resources”. Specifically, the demand for resources and expertise should be precisely assessed, and the division of labour and partnership-building among all stakeholders must be planned in advance to avoid duplication and redundancy.
Other delegates also raised concerns that the new initiative might overlap with the efforts of other United Nations mechanisms. In that vein, the representative of Pakistan agreed that civilian capacities should supplement existing structures, and not create parallel ones. The observations and recommendations made in the relevant report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions – which met on 7 December (see Press Release GA/AB/4052) to consider the initiative - merited serious attention, he said, noting that today’s discussion could provide “useful signposts” as the programme progressed.
Also in the area of civilian capacity, many speakers praised the newly-launched CAPMATCH programme, an online platform aimed at connecting Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations with the needs expressed by countries emerging from conflict. Among other things, some said, the system built partnerships to support democratic transitions and the prevention of further conflict.
However, a number of delegations expressed their belief that the Assembly’s discussion on civilian capacity was premature, as several important bodies – namely, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and the Peacebuilding Commission – had not yet reviewed the initiative, and the recommendations of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) had not yet been fully considered. The launch of the CAPMATCH system had been equally premature, said the representative of the Russian Federation, who proposed to suspend the website pending the setting of necessary parameters.
Similarly, the representative of Cuba stressed that proposals on the strengthening of civilian capacity must be considered and approved by Member States, and, moreover, that the launch of the initiative “should have had [General Assembly] approval”. All cooperation outlined in that programme must follow approved United Nations procedures, she said, and it must be accompanied by a robust accountability mechanism. In addition, Cuba was concerned about the use in the Secretary-General’s report of such terms as “fragile States”, which were concepts not yet fully defined by the Assembly.
In other business today, the Assembly also adopted a resolution on the “permanent memorial to and remembrance of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade”, which was introduced by the representative of Belize on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM). During that discussion, delegates paid tribute to Ambassador Raymond Wolfe of Jamaica, who was attending his last meeting as Permanent Representative, and who had been instrumental in the process of launching the Permanent Memorial and wider United Nations efforts to acknowledge the lasting impact of the transatlantic slave trade.
Also speaking during that discussion were the representatives of Central African Republic (on behalf of the African Group), Jamaica, the United States, Cuba, Israel, South Africa, India and Grenada (also on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago).
The Assembly also adopted a resolution on the “people’s empowerment and development” and on a resolution on the “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”, both of which were introduced by the representative of Bangladesh.
In other action, the Assembly adopted by consensus two resolutions on United Nations cooperation with regional and other organizations, namely on cooperation with the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development (GUAM) – which was introduced by the representative of Azerbaijan - and a text on cooperation with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which was introduced by the representative of Cambodia on behalf of that Group. Speaking in explanation of position on those topics were the representatives of the United States, Canada and Armenia.
Introducing the resolution on the International Day of Charity was the representative of Hungary.
A report of the Credentials Committee, which was introduced by the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, was also adopted.
Also speaking today on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict were the representatives of Egypt, Thailand, Denmark, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, India, Brazil, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Croatia, Australia, Switzerland and Norway. A representative of the European Union delegation also spoke on that topic.
Speaking on the culture of peace were the representatives of Cambodia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Cyprus (on behalf of the European Union), Thailand, Albania and Saudi Arabia.
The observers of Holy See and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also spoke on the culture of peace. Speaking after the action on those resolutions were the representatives of the United States and Tunisia.
Exercising the right of reply were the representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow, 18 December, at 10:00 a.m. to take up the reports of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), among other items.
As it met this morning, the Assembly had before it a number of documents on diverse agenda items, including a report of the Secretary-General on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict (document A/67/312), which outlined progress in the civilian capacity initiative since his last report in August 2011 and sets out future challenges. It is the second report issued since the Secretary-General commissioned the Senior Advisory Group to independently review such capacity in a bid to expand the pool of expertise that supports immediate capacity development needs of countries emerging from conflict.
Work in the past year has underscored the importance of responding adequately to evolving national and operational requirements and making the current regulatory framework more nimble. That includes supporting mission leadership in assessing evolving civilian capacity needs and redeploying resources to change the civilian capacity mix, when required, further developing the use of Government-provided personnel for specialized, time-limited expertise and planning carefully with agencies, funds and programmes to take full account of the capacity-building aspects of mandates. Work is under way to develop more effective arrangements for deploying Secretariat staff to respond to emergency requirements.
For the agenda item on a culture of peace, the Assembly had before it a report on intercultural and interreligious dialogue (document A/67/283), which provides an overview of activities carried out by the main United Nations entities involved in the field of dialogue among cultures, religions and civilizations. It covers a wide range of topics, including the new Programme of Action adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, communication, awareness-raising, educational and other activities.
The Assembly was also slated to consider a note by the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (document A/67/284), by which he transmitted a report of the UNESCO Director-General on that matter.
For its discussion of the follow-up to the commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, the Assembly had before it two reports. The first, entitled permanent memorial to and remembrance of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade: status of the United Nations Trust Fund for Partnerships – Permanent Memorial (document A/67/161), stated that, as at 30 June 2012, a total of $1,312,304 had been recorded as income received under the United Nations Trust Fund for Partnerships — Permanent Memorial, including voluntary contributions from Member States amounting to $1,143,389 and public and private donations totaling $108,562.
The second report, entitled Programme of Educational Outreach on the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery (document A/67/255), reported on continued action to implement that Programme, as well as on steps to enhance world public awareness of the commemorative activities and the permanent memorial initiative.
The Assembly also had before it a Report of the Credentials Committee (document A/67/611) on the work of that body’s current session.
The Assembly was also expected to consider a number of draft resolutions on those and related topics.
On the culture of peace, it had before it draft resolutions entitled: promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (document A/67/L.44); International Day of Charity (document A/67/L.45); and follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (document A/67/L.46).
For an agenda item entitled “People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model”, the Assembly had before it a resolution on people’s empowerment and development (document A/67/L.47).
On the follow-up to the commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, it had before it a report on the permanent memorial to and remembrance of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade (document A/67/L.41).
And finally, for its consideration of an agenda item on “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations”, it had before it draft resolutions entitled, cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development — GUAM (document A/67/L.27), and cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (document A/67/L.40).
Report of the Credentials Committee
RODNEY CHARLES ( Trinidad and Tobago) introduced the report of the Credentials Committee (document A/67/611), recommending its adoption by the Assembly.
The Assembly then adopted the report by consensus.
Speaking briefly in explanation of position, the representative of Iran said that, while his delegation had voted in favour, that support should not in any way be construed as recognition of the Israeli regime.
Strengthening of the United Nations System
Introducing the report on Civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict (document A/67/312) was NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA ( Tunisia), who spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. She said that the report contained valuable insights and highlighted the importance that the Secretary-General attached to the issue. The Movement reiterated the potential benefits that the process could realize among relevant stakeholders, including regional and sub-regional organizations. “Progress still needs to be made to avoid duplication of work in headquarters as well as in the field”, she added. It commended the “demand-driven approach” of the report, but nonetheless stressed that the assessment of demand should be done jointly with national stakeholders.
“We underline the necessity for the United Nations to make full use of South-South cooperation agreements in the development of civilian capacities in post-conflict countries”, she said. The Organization should draw on the expertise of leaders and practitioners from countries of the global South who had grappled with civilian capacity challenges with the aim of deploying effective civilian expertise. With regard to resource mobilization, she stressed that post-conflict peacebuilding was a long-term and resource-intensive process, and that thematic, personnel, and support mechanisms at headquarters must match the abilities to undertake those tasks in the field.
She went on to highlight several other key points, including that “the success of peacebuilding activities hinges on the effective completion of peacekeeping operations and the efficacy of the overall peace process”. peacebuilding activities should not negatively impact on the resources allocated to peacekeeping operations. In addition, she noted the centrality of national capacity building and the importance of inclusivity in the peacebuilding process. “National ownership is the core of all principles for reviewing civilian capacities”, she said in that regard, adding that all citizens – including vulnerable groups such as women and children – must be in a position to contribute meaningfully to the process.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), joining with the Non-Aligned Movement’s position on the strengthening of the United Nations system, said that civilian capacities from the [global] South “are considered to be amongst the most important sources to provide civilian expertise due to the similarities in [their] conditions, capabilities and challenges”. In that context, he affirmed the importance of launching partnerships within a bilateral framework between countries from the South, or through trilateral cooperation mechanisms in order to “respond to the real demand for civilian expertise by countries in the aftermath of conflict”. Moreover, he said, civilian capacities from the South were considered to be cost-efficient compared to cooperation between the North and South.
Egypt, he said, stressed the importance of reaching new formulas characterized by sustainability to provide adequate financing to programmes providing civilian capacities to countries in the aftermath of conflict, and to build upon experiences and lessons learned from financing peacebuilding processes. Egypt, for its part, owned an active fund for technical cooperation with Africa, and another for cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), through which it provided civilian expertise to friendly countries. Interested Egyptian parties had also been among the first subscribers to the CAPMATCH site, launched in 2012 as a global marketplace for civilian capacities. Additionally, Egypt had launched an initiative in the African Union to establish an African Union Centre for Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development.
IOANNIS VRAILAS, representative of the Delegation of the European Union, supported strongly the basic principles of the civilian capacity initiative, for which national ownership was underlined as the only way to build a lasting peace. Partnerships were a vital element and should be made maximum use of. As the report underlined, that enterprise was a collective one involving various actors, both internationally and within the United Nations system. The international community must do better at providing rapid, effective civilian capacity to conflict-affected countries. A main effort was to broaden and deepen the pool of civilian expertise. The Union was in the process of defining how it could contribute to that endeavour, both within the Union and in cooperation with the United Nations. It was aiming at enhancing the identification, recruitment and training of specialist civilian expertise and opportunity for synergies, where appropriate.
He also said the Union was satisfied with the new online platform, CAPMATCH, which provided a mechanism to connect those seeking experience and capacity with potential providers. He went on to encourage active use of CAPMATCH and its continuous refining, based on early experiences and lessons learned. New innovative models needed to be found to enable triangular cooperation. The Union also welcomed the focus put on enhancing accountability and supporting the establishment of the Joint Global Focal Point for rule of law. Synergies to be gained through such an approach were important and similar arrangements could be beneficial in other sectors as well.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said the road to recovery must be rooted in institutions and capacities, which were organic and sustainable and which reflected the international communities’ support for transitions from conflict to durable peace and sustainable development. Furthermore, the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation needed to be underscored, as well as the work of the Peacebuilding Commission in developing national capacity and mobilizing resources for institution-building. Sharing comparable experiences between countries, which had faced similar challenges at different stages of their transitions, would be extremely useful, he added.
However, he said, while South-South and triangular cooperation should not take the place of traditional North-South cooperation, the role of the global South should be further explored and supported. Continual review and reassessment of improving the Organization’s efforts and cooperation with relevant stakeholders and partners was the only way to meet evolving demands and challenging landscapes. His country’s participation in CAPMATCH reflected Thailand’s commitment to South-South cooperation in the bilateral context, offering his Government’s agencies capacities and experiences in the area of economic revitalization, particularly in post-conflict, post-crisis and political transition.
ERIK LAURSEN ( Denmark), aligning with the European Union on the agenda item “Strengthening the United Nations system”, he agreed that developing civilian capacities was crucial on the journey from conflict to reconstruction. States must “avoid one-size-fits-all solutions”, he said in that regard, and they must commit for “however long it takes” to bring countries emerging from conflict back on track. In that context, he encouraged States to continue their outreach to build further support and momentum. Denmark, pending final approval, would donate about $170,000 to the civilian capacity initiative, he announced.
Highlighting several key areas in that regard, he welcomed the launch of the online platform CAPMATCH, which strengthened global partnerships by promoting South-South cooperation without sacrificing North-South cooperation. The international community must keep exploring other innovative mechanisms in support of such cooperation, he stressed. Denmark also welcomed the establishment of the “joint focal point” on the rule of law, and encouraged the civilian capacity team to developing further global focal points. It was essential that the United Nations bring greater focus to the principle of national ownership in post-conflict settings. “Inclusive, country-owned and country-led initiatives are vital” for States to successfully emerge from conflict, he emphasized.
DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia) said his Government fully agreed that without nationally owned transformation of institutions that provided political representation, security, justice and economic opportunities, there could be no sustained recovery from conflict. While the newly launched online tool, CAPMATCH, and other initiatives aimed at better enabling the matching of needed civilian capacities were important, the United Nations’ relevant agenda must exert greater focus on the aspect of adequate and sustained financing that helped to broaden and deepen the pool of such capacities, as well as draw on civilian capacities from the Global South. Indonesia expected the Secretary-General’s report to elaborate ways for the United Nations system to support and to draw capacities from the Global South through enhanced regional, South-South and triangular cooperation.
He also strongly supported the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission and its Country Configurations in national capacity development of countries emerging from conflict, in particular, countries under the Commission’s agenda. He went on to seek more information on the work by the inter-agency working group led by the United Nations Development Programme to develop principles and guidelines for better using and building of national capacity, and how did it link to in drawing capacity, which would potentially be increasingly available through CAPMATCH.
ELIZABETH COUSENS ( United States) said that societies emerging from conflict or managing transitions faced innumerable challenges. “Successful and sustainable transitions require mobilizing wide-ranging civilian capacities, skills and expertise”, she noted. The United States applauded the Secretary-General for his initiative on strengthening civilian capacity, and cited several examples of good practice in that regard. In Libya, for example, the United Nations’ flexible approach to planning had helped the Organization tailor its support to the genuine needs of the people, and had allowed for a Libyan-led transition process. Civilian capacity must therefore be “timely, tailored to context and nimble”, she stressed.
In that past, “supply, rather than demand” had too often guided post-conflict assistance, she went on. Moreover, improving the United Nations system’s ability to deliver support in the field also required the right arrangements at headquarters. She made reference, in that regard, to the new United Nations Development Programme partnership with various countries on the rule of law in the field, and said that the United States looked forward to further progress, including towards filling critical gaps.
JUN YAMAZAKI ( Japan) welcomed the launch of CAPMATCH, which provided a self-service online platform for a better match between demand and supply of specialized civilian capacities for countries emerging from conflict. The system built partnerships to support post-conflict recovery, democratic transitions, and conflict prevention, either bilaterally or through the United Nations presence on the ground. Japan had begun considering its participation in the online system. In that regard, Japan would continue to actively engage in the discussions, including creating a guideline for the recruitment and deployment of the Government Provisional Personnel in order to ensure rapid deployment as well as a transparent process.
Japan believed that key to the success of the Civilian Capacity Initiative lay in national ownership, he said. In addition, South-South cooperation and triangular partnerships, which allowed for countries to share similar peacebuilding experiences, should be further encouraged. He went on to request the Civilian Capacities Team to widely disseminate the lessons learned, including achievements and challenges, from the trial phase of CAPMATCH. The Civilian Capacity Initiative, along with the New Deal and the United Nations Peacebuilding architecture, played an integral part in the global peacebuilding discussions currently being undertaken by the international community. It was essential to ensure that those different initiatives were not pursued separately but in a mutually complementary way, thus leading to effective and efficient implementation.
CLAUDIA GARCÍA GUIZA ( Mexico) recognized the progress achieved regarding the Civilian Capacity Initiative. It was undeniable that such capacity building was key to achieving peace and security in countries emerging from conflict. Political and technical processes must be rooted in national ownership, which should be complemented by support of the international community. She went on to describe how Mexico was contributing to that undertaking. In that regard, she stressed the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation, as well as the need for funding from international financial institutions. To promote international peace and security in post-conflict countries, relapse into conflict must be avoided. To meet greater challenges, the United Nations presence on the ground must have necessary expertise.
GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) said that the international community could and must do better in supporting States recovering from conflict or managing political transitions. It was evident that such States faced significant shortages of the technical expertise necessary to protect the fundamental freedoms of their populations. The United Nations had a role to play in supporting the quick and efficient deployment of specialized civilian experts to assist in enhancing prosperity, security and dignity of the world’s population.
As co-Chair with Indonesia of the Consultative Group on Civilian Capacities, Canada stressed that in a time of global fiscal restraint, efforts must focus on achieving measurable results on the ground in post-conflict and transition settings while avoiding duplicative processes. Progress had been made, as seen in Libya where the Organization’s flexible approach to the planning of the Support Mission (UNSMIL) had reflected national priorities and had responded more effectively to realities on the group. Emphasizing that the ultimate test for success was the impact achieved on the ground, he urged that it was important Member States should collectively consider any necessary next steps on the matter.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India) said, regarding civilian capacity, that the sustainability of peace depended on the comprehensive peace processes wherein all actors contributed towards one goal. Governance, basic-services and public administration were some of the formidable challenges in the transition from conflict to lasting peace. Therefore, it was important the Organization address such support for national civilian capacities in post-conflict situations.
His country, he said, had made civilian capacities available to countries in crisis situations for decades and would continue to offer those services, as well as help enhance field capacities. Further, the civilian capacity was a crucial component of the peacekeeping framework and should support such missions rather than “dilute the budgetary and financial support”. Thus, it was time that civilian capacity marked a transition from conceptual to programmatic, while ensuring that overlaps and duplications be avoided. The identification of entities responsible for implementing that initiative would aid in accountability and oversight.
Turning to the debate on culture of peace, he said that the topic reaffirmed the “Indian ethos of the plurality of humanity”. India was the world largest democracy with unparalleled diversity in its population of 1.2 billion, and was home to practically all major religions. Its characteristic tolerance, inclusiveness and affirmation had contributed to India’s composite culture and durable civilization. He said that inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue was of paramount importance in developing a better understanding of contradictions and divergent approaches. A global environment conducive for fostering connection between diverse cultures, races, faiths and religions would “help promote transition from force to reason, conflict and violence to dialogue and peace”.
Towards those goals, he said, India had, through the United Nations Department of Public Information Academic Impact initiative, worked to promote tolerance and understanding. His mission had co-sponsored a seminar on inter-religious dialogue titled “Faith, Dialogue and Integration” and had hosted a Sufi Music concert earlier this year as part of the initiative’s “Unlearning Intolerance” series.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) agreed that the review of civilian capacities in the aftermath of conflict should promote greater participation of civilians from the developing world, including among mission leadership. The review should ensure that the international experts must be able to train and nurture local capacities, in order to ensure that all actions were nationally owned. The CAPMATCH platform was a useful tool that might constitute a valuable inventory of the existing offer of civilian expertise, especially for developing countries. For that instrument to be successful, it was of the utmost importance that the necessary assistance be offered to countries that still grappled to identify and develop a roster of their available capacities.
She went on to state that it was Brazil’s hope that Member States and the Secretariat would be able to translate into practice the main principles behind the Civilian Capacity process, in particular the importance that it be demand-driven based on the different needs of post-conflict countries. Efforts should be focused on strengthening local institutions, in light of the priorities identified by local actors. The relevant bodies of the General Assembly, especially the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and the Committee of 34 (on Peacekeeping Operations) would consider different aspects of the Secretary-General’s report, she added.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia), associating his delegation with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement on the “strengthening of the United Nations system” and on the “culture of peace”, said that there was a need to expand civilian capacity and expertise in support of nation-building programmes. He also underscored the importance of the various fields of civilian expertise in stilling reform and institution building for Governments emerging from conflict. Malaysia was encouraged by the introduction of the CAPMATCH platform, and was heartened by the fact that 63 countries and non-governmental organizations had shown keen interest in it. Malaysia had been advocating for programmes of human capacity development and supporting socio-economic expansion on the island of Mindanao, he said, as they were prerequisites to finding a sustainable solution to the conflict there.
Turning to the agenda item on the “culture of peace”, he said that this year, several cities across the Middle East had witnessed violence as a consequence of the “distasteful” film known as “the Innocence of Muslims”, which had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad. The film had succeeded in inflaming Muslims and many lives had been lost as a result. However, “resorting to violence, killings and destruction will get us nowhere”. “No religion asks its followers to do evil”, he stressed. Instead, all religions enjoined mankind to do good, to know and understand each other, and to live in peace with one another.
Rarely were conflicts truly between religions, he went on. “However, often we find people dressing their causes and political agendas in religious garb to make them more appealing, respected and legitimate”. In those cases, it was the obligation of those from the same faith to discredit them. Faiths were not in conflict; it was people and nations with conflicting interests that collided. In that regard, Malaysia’s Prime Minister had called for a “global movement of moderates” at the sixty-fifth General Assembly. In Malaysia, the first step taken towards a more united society had been the formation of an alliance of political parties that represented all the major ethnic groups. That group was included in the political process, and had a stake in how the country was run. “This was one of the most significant decisions that contributed to making Malaysia what it is today”, he said.
HERMAN SCHAPER (The Netherlands) called for a comprehensive approach to institution and capacity building in post-conflict settings, with an emphasis on national ownership and priorities. He stressed the importance of the “CivCap” initiative to improving the United Nations’ approach to peacebuilding, noting that the latest report on the issue called for a more coherent and nimble United Nations support structure for peacebuilding. Heads of missions needed to have greater flexibility in facilitating changes in the mix of civilian capacities whenever necessary, with such a system likely to enable an improved United Nations response capacity in fragile situations and to boost the Organisation’s ability to more effectively address post-conflict challenges.
Emphasising the importance of South-South cooperation, he said post-conflict countries could benefit from the experiences of countries that had faced similar issues. Trilateral cooperation was also beneficial and The Netherlands had worked with Ghana and the United Nations Mission in Liberia to train Liberian customs officials. He prioritized the need to support better coordination of different United Nations institutions and between bilateral and multilateral initiatives, welcoming the recent arrangement between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Development Programme to serve as a global focal point for police, justice and corrections.
While the High-level Meeting on Rule of Law and the High-level Event on Peacebuilding had recognized the importance of peacebuilding to long term peace, security and development, negotiations on that issue in the context of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review had been “laborious and difficult,” he said, also noting resistance on support for leadership in fragile and post-conflict States and on the civilian capacities process.
SHIN DONG IK ( Republic of Korea) said that delegations knew “all too well that the end of conflict does not automatically mean flourishing peace”. Indeed, the fragility of post-conflict countries could only be surmounted when the people themselves became masters of their fate. Without adequate civilian capacities, sustainable peace and long-term development would remain a “farfetched dream”. The Secretary-General’s report on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict contained some specific assessments on priority areas such as national ownership, system-wide framework, partnerships and expertise. “We believe this is a step in the right direction and that it is also in line with the four shared principles of the Busan Partnership”, which had been endorsed by some 160 countries at the Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness last year.
As civilian capacity was about deploying the people’s capability to construct and secure their own future, country-owned and country-led approaches in the planning and implementation of civilian capacity building must be put at the centre of all efforts. Inclusivity and the participation of relevant stakeholders were also important to the process. However, he noted that the United Nations’ peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development components were not being harmonized in an effective manner at the current juncture. Rather than taking a fragmented approach, those efforts should be synchronized to maximize effectiveness. Civilian capacity must be promoted at the start of, or even before, the peacekeeping stage, to avoid missed opportunities and wasted time or resources. Specifically, the demand for resources and expertise should be precisely assessed, and the division of labour and partnership-building among all stakeholders must be planned in advance to avoid duplication and redundancy.
RANKO VILOVIĆ (Croatia), aligning with the European Union and speaking, in its national capacity, on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, said that his country fully supported current efforts to broaden and deepen the pool of experts ready to help rebuild and transform national institutions in countries emerging from conflict. That institutional transformation, guided by national authorities and embracing all key elements of the national fabric, was among the most important prerequisites for permanent recovery and sustainable peace in all conflict-affected countries. It welcomed, in particular, the recent launch of CAPMATCH, which should result in new partnerships among all relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations. It was particularly heartening to learn of the strong support for that platform in the Global South.
In that vein, Croatia was currently developing a national register of civilian capacities, which would significantly improve the rapidness, nimbleness and diversity of its engagement. The country also attached particular importance to the activities of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund in that context, especially as regarded to the delivery of predictable and sustainable funding for civilian expertise engagement. It also attached importance to the issues of effective coordination and mutual cooperation between all relevant stakeholders in peacebuilding efforts, especially in current times of austerity and scarce resources.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said that the report under consideration was the result of a long process, and that the civilian capacity initiative was being developed through a dialogue with Member States and regional groups. Reinforcing national ownership in deploying such capacities should rightly be underlined, he said. It was also important to understand the relevance of civilian expertise in the context of post-conflict situations. “We must firewall the system against overstaffing”, he said, and the duplication of roles and capacities must be avoided.
Indeed, civilian capacities should supplement existing structures, and not create parallel ones. Civilian capacity should also exist within existing structures and procedures of the United Nations, he stressed in that regard. In that vein, the observations and recommendations made in the relevant report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions merited serious attention. Finally, he hoped that the civilian capacity initiative would progress in a Membership-owned process. Today’s discussion could provide “useful signposts” in that regard, he added.
ALISON CHARTRES ( Australia) said her Government shared the view that priority must be given to capacity building in the areas of security, justice, inclusive political processes, core Government functionality and economic revitalization in countries emerging from conflict. Identifying the appropriate sources of expertise in those areas, and deploying it in a timely and flexible manner, was a vital part of the United Nations’ work. Australia fully supported measures that increased the use of expertise from the South.
Australia spent more than half of its regional and bilateral aid budget in fragile and conflict-affected countries, she continued. Seven of the top ten recipients of Australian aid were fragile or conflict-affected countries. With a long history of engagement with those partner countries, her Government had a clear understanding of what was needed to support and how to go about providing that support for maximum effectiveness. It was necessary to adopt an inclusive approach that reflected the priorities of partner Governments, as well as a comprehensive analysis of the local context to guide support to those governments. There was a need to align assistance with a country’s own planning cycle and priorities as well as a need to sustain engagement over the longer term. “There is no quick fix,” she said, urging the United Nations to apply those same principles.
PETR V. ILIICHEV ( Russian Federation) said the strengthening of assistance to countries emerging from conflict was an important area of the Organization’s work. The Secretary-General report on the Civilian Capacity Initiative should be considered in subsidiary bodies of, such as the General Assembly Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and in the Peacebuilding Commission. Without prejudging due consideration by those bodies, the Russian Federation felt that the process of providing civilian capacity should strictly ensure that such personnel have adequate qualifications. In that context, his delegation was perplexed by the premature launch of the new CAPMATCH online system to match demand and supply, and therefore proposed to suspend the website and set necessary parameters first.
YESSIKA COMESAÑA PERDOMO ( Cuba) took note with concern the use, in the report currently before the Assembly, of concepts such as “fragile States”, which had not yet been defined. The proposals on the strengthening of civilian capacity must be considered and approved by Member States, she went on to day, and the full participation of Governments must be the core principle. Moreover, the launching of the programme “should have had [General Assembly] approval”, she stressed. All cooperation outlined in that programme must follow approved United Nations procedures, and it must be accompanied by a robust accountability mechanism.
THOMAS GUERBER ( Switzerland) said that the efforts on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict were some of the most important in the United Nations system, and commended the Secretary-General for the transparency and openness that he had demonstrated in running the programme. Switzerland supported the deployment of efforts to strengthen civilian capacity. Highlighting several key elements, he said that the adoption of a systemic, coordinated approach remained key. Member States must keep working “from a broader perspective”, and it was vital to have an accurate idea of the other actors involved in order to “pinpoint gaps and the best ways of filling them”. “The United Nations is not obliged to meet the challenges facing us alone”, he added in that regard. The existence of solid partnerships was therefore a prerequisite, he said, citing cooperation with the World Bank as a particularly exemplary partnership in that regard.
Secondly, he underscored the importance of a gender-specific approach, which should be integrated into all action. While there was no one-size fits all solution in the aftermath of conflict – a realization that was already a step in the right direction – he commended the adoption of a more systematic approach to gender, and said that it would be wise to integrate experts in gender affairs in the bureaus of the high representatives on the ground. Thirdly, “what matters are the results achieved”. Feedback should provide indicators on the way to move forward, he added, citing the successful cases of Timor-Leste and Libya. The CAPMATCH programme was another promising initiative that could encourage cooperation with countries form the South, while prioritizing the exchange of necessary practices within the donor community.
KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) said that during the last decade, “we have learnt a lot about peacebuilding, particularly from failures.” Two lessons were the need to be better in using civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, and the need to focus on national capacity building. The Civilian Capacity Initiative was one of the United Nations’ responses to those lessons. Norway worked with countries in the Global South to develop local civilian capacities, with one example being the Training for Peace Programme. Norway worked with African partners to support the building of sustainable African capacities for peace operations in the United Nations, the African Union and other regional frameworks.
Through the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), Norway supported South Sudan by way of triangular partnership. The funds made available by the Norwegian Government were managed by the United Nations Development Programme and the main implementing partner was the South Sudanese National Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development. Norway was also pleased to see the launch of the new online system, CAPMATCH. It was not a site for United Nations recruitment, but Norway encouraged an active use of that system.
Following that discussion, Assembly President Vuc Jeremić took the floor to say that it was his understanding that, upon appropriate consideration of the report of the Secretary-General (document A/67/312) by the Peacebuilding Commission, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (“C34”) – presumably by March or April 2013 – the item would be scheduled to be taken up by the plenary for approval. Today’s opening meeting should not be construed as giving approval to the report.
Culture of Peace
The Assembly then turned to its discussion of the agenda item on the “culture of peace”.
Taking the floor first, EDUARDO JOSE ATIENZA DE VEGA ( Philippines) introduced a draft resolution on “Promotion of Interreligious Dialogue and Intercultural Dialogue” (document A/67/L.44). He began by offering his sympathies to the Government and people of the United States, who had lost 20 young children and 6 educators in a tragic and unspeakable incident in Newtown, Connecticut, last week. “It is in memory of these children and their educators that we renew our commitment to help strengthen the foundations of a more peaceful, loving and caring world based on a culture of peace”, he said.
In that vein, the Philippines had first introduced a resolution on interreligious dialogue in 2004. It had done so with the firm belief, shared by many partners in the United Nations that one of the ways of achieving global peace would be through drawing the human family closer in greater understanding and respect of its diversity. “We knew we could tear down artificial walls built to separate humankind from each other”, he said. Eight years since the landmark 2004 Assembly resolution 59/23 had been adopted, the international community had steadily fortified the foundations of that initiative and resolutely worked to broaden the participation and ownership of key stakeholders. There had been a deeper appreciation of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, and the world had seen a growing and deepening recognition of the values of efforts in many parts of the world to foster dialogue between religions, cultures and civilizations.
The draft before the Assembly today built on developments from last session’s resolution, which drew links between interfaith dialogue, peace, development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the important role played by UNESCO. It continued, among other key elements, a paragraph proclaiming the period 2013-2022 as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, and which called on Member States to use the opportunity to enhance their activities relating to interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Among other things, additional new paragraphs welcomed the outcome of the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue, held in 2011, and encouraged Member States and relevant stakeholders to disseminate their best practices and experiences on the subject.
Speaking next, RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said his Government was one of the two main cosponsors of the draft resolution L.44. The initiative had added support in the form of more cosponsors from various regions. The draft had been fully discussed for two weeks in a meaningful and consensual manner and he expressed appreciation to delegations that exhibited flexibility to achieve a balanced text. Incidents of incitement of intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia were numerous and, as responsible actors, the international community needed to tackle such challenges head-on. What was needed was more dialogue, he added.
Interreligious dialogue must be pursued in an organized way, with participants not limited to religious leaders, he said. Cultural diversity could contribute to socio-economic development. For its part, Pakistan had established a “harmony committee’ that included all religions, promoting interfaith dialogue. He went on to urge all Member States to support the draft text before them. That and similar actions would eventually lead to creation of “global culture of peace, something we all aspire for”.
CSABA KÖRÖSI (Hungary), introducing the draft resolution (document A/67/L.35) entitled “International Day of Charity”, said that the adoption of the text would reaffirm the role of charity in promoting peace and the universal principles of human dignity and solidarity. The designated Day was, he noted, marked the day of Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa’s death. The prime purpose of the resolution was to remind the international community that charity was carried out all over the world on mainly at local and national levels by countless individuals, and various charitable and volunteer organizations. “No part of this work could happen without the devotion of millions whose names may not be known to us,” he said.
The draft was written as such to not give a clear-cut definition of charity, as it could take different forms in different cultures, he said. Nonetheless, it could be universally understood as “stakeholders uniting in the principle of solidarity and the act of benevolent giving”. Further, he pointed out, 95 per cent of all charitable activities were done within the boundaries of their respective countries and were not limited to donations by the very rich to the very poor.
Rather, he continued, charity was a way of thinking and a common desire to help. It could alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, supplement public services in health care, education, housing and child protection, and advance culture, science and sports. It could also advance the protection of cultural and natural heritage. It also promoted the rights of the marginalized and underprivileged and helped spread the message of humanity in conflict situations. As in the notion of volunteerism, charity provided social bonding and contributed to the creation of inclusive and more resilient societies.
The draft resolution, he said, was short, simple, but significant and would create a universal platform to enhance visibility, organize special events, create synergies and thereby further increase public support. Moreover, its concrete utilization on the local, national, regional and international levels would remain in the hands of the different stakeholders and based on their special circumstances, needs and priorities. Concluding, he said that the cross-regional co-sponsorship of the draft reflected the universal recognition of charity and the enduring relevance of selfless giving in today’s world.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution on follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (document A/67/L.46), said the text, while based on last year’s text, contained a few new issues. It welcomed the High-level Forum, held on 14 September 2012, as well as the High-level debate organized by UNESCO, which had marked the observance of the International Day of Peace on 21 September 2012. It called on States to participate in International Jazz Day on 30 April to increase inter-cultural exchange, and requested the Assembly President to consider convening a high-level forum on implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace on or around 13 September.
He went on to say that a culture of peace could not be achieved by Governments alone; it required efforts from youth, teachers, religious and community leaders, parents and civil society. Holding events, such as the High-level Forum organized on 14 September, every year would not necessarily require additional funds from the United Nations budget. But it would convey a strong message that the United Nations was committed to nurturing a culture of peace and non-violence. He expressed hope the draft would be adopted without a vote.
KOSAL SEA (Cambodia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that region was home to half a billion people and a mosaic of great religions and cultures. It was also home to many ethnic groups. Such general diversity was a reflection of the multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural societies in most Southeast Asian countries. Because of that, he emphasized the importance of creating and maintaining a culture of peace in the region, and beyond. Further, since the establishment of ASEAN in 1967, its Member States had been able to co-exist in relative peace. “Our diversity is a source of our strength,” he said.
He went on to say that at the 18th ASEAN Summit in April, the Global Movement of the Moderates initiative had been established, recognizing that the true divide in the world today was not between East and West, or developed and developing countries, to name a few, but between moderates and extremists of all religions and beliefs, and in all areas and aspects. Thus, the inclusion of text on moderation that had been inserted into the draft resolution on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue and understanding (document L.44) had been most welcomed.
The culture of peace implied a more nuanced and complex foundation for a lasting peace that transcended the “mere cessation of armed conflict”, he said. It required the participation of all stakeholders on the national and international level. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue could open the hearts and minds of people so that their common aspirations could underpin social and institutional cooperation in the pursuit of peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding between different religions and different ethnic cultures.
STELIOS MAKRIYIANNIS ( Cyprus), speaking on behalf of the Delegation of the European Union, stated the bloc’s appreciation for several new elements in the resolution presently before the Assembly. First was the addition of a new preambular paragraph on the diversity of identities. He regretted that intra-religious dialogue was not mentioned in the resolution. The European Union attached great importance to the prerogative of religious leaders and those in the religious communities, and felt that they should be fully respected. It also attached importance to the work done by UNESCO, the Alliance of Civilizations and related organizations. The Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures was declared by the resolution, he recalled, stating his belief that related activities should be funded from existing resources. Member States and others were invited to participate in the funding of the Programme of Action of the decade, he added, noting that the European Union would join the consensus on that resolution.
Commenting on the culture of peace, JAKKRIT SRIVALI ( Thailand) said issues of sovereignty and territorial claims and sectarian conflict remained potential powder kegs that needed to be managed and defused. In today’s world, he said, an individual, if sufficiently motivated and equipped, could inflict large-scale violence with relatively little effort. To deepen the culture of peace, the root causes of those and other similar problems needed to be addressed.
To do that, in the international context, certain elements were critical, including the idea of a culture for development that emphasized links between diversity, dialogue and moving towards a shared goal. In addition, human rights, justice and equality were critical for peace to prevail, he said, noting that Thailand supported a rights-based approach to intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Fostering a culture of peace also required a holistic approach, incorporating Member States, United Nations agencies, civil society and all other stakeholders. “Human history is so steeped in blood and war that the notion of a culture of peace can seem impossibly utopian, but we would not be here if we truly believed that,” he said, pointing out that the world should learn from cultures where peace was so ingrained that violence was all but unthinkable. “It is not beyond our reach.”
FERIT HOXHA ( Albania) said his delegation was pleased to be a co-sponsor of the draft resolution on the International Day of Charity. While over the years, the calendar had meaningfully been enriched with important remembrance dates, the text presented today showed that something important had been missing. Charity was a word with a basic definition but which had a much deeper meaning and varying perceptions and understandings in different regions, cultures and civilizations. Yet, everywhere it translated into a “highly noble action”. Every year, hundreds of billions of dollars were donated to charity in order to help the poor, assist in need, care for victim of wars, conflicts, human and natural catastrophes. If it were to be confined only to financial and material help, it would miss an essential part. Charity was also about time, energy, dedication, comfort, warmth and love to those in need.
Charity, he continued, was the fruit of the work of millions of people who could care for millions of people who were in need. In choosing an individual who personified Charity in its best, there would have hardly been another person than Mother Teresa. By choosing 5 September, the day she passed away, as the International Day, the Assembly was helping to make it more tangible and bring it closer to the people. Recalling her words, he said: “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, I am an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world.” He said it was that calling that 5 September of every year would celebrate and remember the irreplaceable role of charity in every society and in every country.
CHRISTOPHE LOBRY-BOULANGER, Observer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said that the promotion of a culture of non-violence and peace was built around non-discrimination and respect for diversity, violence prevention, mitigation and response, and inter-cultural, inter-generational and inter-religious dialogue. Yet, violence existed in each corner of the world in low, medium and high income countries, “in slums, school classrooms, behind the locked doors of homes and institutions and through technology”, he said. Further, populations that already faced the highest risks, such as children and women, had become even more threatened.
However, despite the challenges, he continued, the IFRC believed the situation was not without solution. Violence, while complex and frustrating, was not inevitable. Rather, like the risk of other public health crises such as cholera, respiratory illnesses and measles, to name a few, that could escalate in disasters, violence could be contained, curbed and ultimately prevented. An IFRC report by the Canadian Red Cross on best practices after disasters challenged stakeholders to respond to the problem of violence through early and proactive action, using a public health approach, incorporating gender and including children and youth.
He went on to say that education, a key tool for fostering a culture of non-violence and peace was not yet embedded in most national educational systems. When incorporated, it was often in post-conflict settings rather than serving a preventative transformative role of society. Thus, education needed to be translated into action by policy and decision-makers at international and national levels. Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3 aimed at universal primary education and equal access of boys and girls, but only focused on availability and accessibility. He urged that equal importance be given to the quality and acceptability of education in post-Millennium Goals reflections and policy dialogues.
Concluding, he underscored that violence was predictable and preventable and that such prevention was a moral and humanitarian imperative. “It behoves all of us to garner all the human and financial resources at our disposal, and to commit them to the prevention of self-directed and interpersonal violence of all kinds,” he stressed. If prevention was not sought, the future of the international community and its children would be seriously jeopardized
ARCHBISHOP FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, the Observer of the Holy See said regarding to the resolution of the International Day of Charity, that far more than collecting and distributing funds, charity reflected the underlying motivation that urged individuals or societies to reach out to one another in true solidarity. “Without recognizing the deeper meaning and understanding, charity risks becoming nothing more than mere sentimentality and emotionalism,” he said, and thus, charity’s ability to teach people about the importance of sharing, respect and love would be thwarted.
He pointed out that in her address to the General Assembly, Mother Teresa had highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of charity, asserting that works of love began at home and were works of peace. The simplicity of that message emphasized that charity was an expression of love received and given. The Holy See continued to urge charitable or philanthropic organizations to be committed to achieving humanitarian solutions to the social and political problems of the day.
With modern communication virtually eliminating distances between individuals, he went on to say, charitable activity could and should embrace all peoples and all needs. As well, the resolution would lend itself towards establishing a universal framework towards the common goal of helping communities and their populace to fulfil physical, social, economic and spiritual needs.
Taking the floor before action, the representative of Saudi Arabia extended his delegation’s warmest thanks to the delegation of Hungary, which had introduced the draft resolution on the International Day of Charity. He also thanked Member States. The text reflected the importance the international community had attached to charity. Charity was an essential underpinning in his country, given the impact it would have on reducing the suffering of those in need. But he wished to underscore that charitable action could not replace international aid. Saudi Arabia was spearheading international assistance by devoting a rate higher than the long-agreed 0.7 per cent mark of gross domestic product (GDP) to such purposes. International aid was essential to achieving Millennium Development Goals, particularly in least developed countries.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, resolutions on the following: promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (document A/67/L.44); International Day of Charity (document A/67/L.45); and follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (document A/67/L.46).
Speaking after action, the delegate of the United States, expressing her delegation’s support for the three resolutions on the culture of peace, said she was encouraged by the consensus to promote the principles and provisions of the resolutions. As a country that was as diverse as hers, such promotion was important to the development of peaceful relations between people and between States.
In particular, she said, draft resolution L.44 reaffirmed the international community’s recognition of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provided the framework for the freedom of expression, which she stressed, should be afforded the greatest protection. That human rights obligation was one to which States had consented to and must comply with. As well, in regards to the financial implication of that resolution, as lead agency, UNESCO should be responsible for supporting relevant activities.
She then noted appreciation for draft resolution L.46, particularly in regards to the International Jazz Day, an art form that had uniquely contributed to international relations by bringing together people from all over the world and which, would be celebrated next year in Istanbul.
Also speaking after the action, the delegate of Tunisia said that his country was not a co-sponsor of draft resolution L.47
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution on people’s empowerment and development, said that a year ago, Prime Minister of his country, Sheikh Hasina, had proposed a development model based on people’s empowerment during a General Assembly meeting. Her inspiration had come from the fact that billions of peoples around the world suffered from political, economic, social and cultural disempowerment, deprivation, or exclusion. It was believed that empowerment of those people could foster just and sustainable development. In the sixty-sixth session of the Assembly, a resolution on people’s empowerment and development had been adopted by consensus. The text had highlighted elements envisaged by the Prime Minister. This year, he said, the resolution would again enjoy full support.
By the terms of this year’s text, the Assembly would appreciate the Government of Bangladesh’s efforts in bringing the issue to the fore and acknowledge the International Conference on People’s Empowerment and Development, held in Dhaka earlier this year. The Assembly also would request the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of the high-level panel on the theme “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all”, which would hold its discussions during the fifty-first session of the Commission for Social Development in 2013. The Assembly also would request -to include information relevant to the present resolution in the Secretary-General’s report to the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly on progress in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
The Assembly then adopted by consensus the draft resolution on people’s empowerment and development (document A/67/L.47).
The delegate of Tunisia informed the Assembly that his country was a cosponsor of draft resolution L.46 and apologized for any misunderstanding.
Commemoration of 200th Anniversary of Abolition of Transatlantic Slave Trade
LOIS YOUNG ( Belize), on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), introduced the draft resolution on permanent memorial to and remembrance of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade (A/67/L.41). Recalling the abolishment of the slave trade 200 years ago and the adoption of the Durban Declaration 11 years ago, she thanked the Secretary-General for continuing to keep the momentum going regarding activities undertaken.
This year’s draft resolution included references of paragraphs 101 and 102 of the Durban Declaration, which, among others, invited the international community and its members to honour the memory of the victims of slavery. The text also highlighted the continued importance of educating and informing current and future generations about the causes, consequences and lessons of slavery and the transatlantic salve trade. It also recalled the establishment of a committee of interested States to oversee the permanent memorial project, drawn from all geographical regions of the world, with Member States from CARICOM and the African Union playing a primary role, in cooperation with various United Nations entities. The text also recognized the necessity of sustained voluntary contributions to achieve the goal of erecting the permanent memorial.
An important new element, she continued, was the inclusion of operative paragraph 9 which read: “notes with appreciation the commitment of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to the permanent memorial initiative, and in this regard, requests increased collaboration with the Permanent Memorial Committee towards the successful conclusion of the international design competition for the permanent memorial”. In closing, she underscored the importance of honouring the descendents of slaves for what they endured and paying tribute to the brave men and women who valiantly fought against the inhumane practices of slavery.
CHARLES-ARMEL DOUBANE ( Central African Republic), speaking on behalf of the African Group, first offered condolences to the host country on recent tragic events. He then went on to say that the Commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the Transatlantic slave trade celebrated both the resilience of the human spirit to survive adversity and the efforts that ensured the unfortunate period of history was brought to an end. The Assembly, six years ago, had designated 25 March as the day of the Commemoration, recognizing the lasting effect of slavery in the modern world, which was at the “heart of profound social and economic inequality, hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice”, which continued to affect people of African descent today.
He said that the Fifth International Day to commemorate the victims of the slave trade, which was observed under the theme “the Living Legacy of 30 Million Untold Stories,” had recognized the dearth of inquiry into the experiences of enslaved Africans and the continuing gap in literature regarding their individual and collective perspectives. Scholarly literature on the slave trade and slavery had provided deep insights into the magnitude of the brutal treatment and the condition of slaves. However, only a limited number of narratives had addressed the true identities of enslaved Africans, their beliefs, value systems and expertises.
Further, he said, the diversity of skills and technological know-how, which enslaved Africans brought to the Americas and their invaluable contribution to nation-building had not been sufficiently acknowledged. More efforts were needed in promoting education and outreach programs to ensure that gaps were filled. He expressed appreciation for UNESCO, the Committee of Permanent Representatives, as well as the Department of Public Information for their outreach work, including the establishment of the new and continuing scholarship programme to provide a more insightful look into the history of enslavement during the 400-year trade, as well as the legacy from the perspective of the victims.
He concluded, saying that one of the ways of sustaining lasting outreach efforts would be the erection of a permanent memorial to, and remembrance of, the victims of slavery and the slave trade. He welcomed the initiative by the Caribbean Community in that regard and further recognized the importance and necessity of sustained voluntary contributions in order to complete, in a timely manner, that memorial. Acknowledging the contributions to the Trust Fund, he noted that several African countries had participated and he urged other States that had not done so, to contribute as well. He also commended the work of the delegation of Jamaica, in particular, Ambassador Raymond Wolfe, for leading the initiative since 2007.
RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica), joining with the Caribbean Community and the African Group, warned that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. As such, the Assembly’s reflection on the tragedy of slavery must transcend into action “as we continue to grapple with the ills of today’s society”. It was in that regard that Jamaica continued to spearhead the initiative to erect a permanent memorial at Headquarters to honour the victims of slavery and the Transatlantic slave trade, and that it would continue in its efforts to educate others on the history, legacy and lingering effects of the barbarism of the slave trade.
The process leading up to the memorial had been a long and arduous one, he recalled, and one with ups and downs. As Chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee, he briefed the Assembly on the panel’s activities over the past year, including the selection of semi-finalists from an international design competition, and plans to hold a Grand Gala event to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the United States in 2013. Some Governments had also made multiple contributions to the Trust Fund, and he was particularly pleased to highlight the contribution of India, which had made the single largest voluntary contribution to date in the amount of $260,000.
ELIZABETH COUSENS ( United States) said that on September 22, 2012, her country had marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, providing that all enslaved people were to be freed. Describing how the United States had broken with the past and opened a new chapter in the history of slavery and transatlantic slavery trade, she said that the Government was always steadfast in efforts, such as educating the public about those issues, among others. American voice was always part of global call in that regard. She went on to acknowledge the work of UNESCO and highlight various contributions made by African-Americans. Recalling the words of President Barack Obama, she said, “Slavery is barbaric and evil and has no place in the world.” She reaffirmed her delegation’s commitment to end modern forms of racism and slavery.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ ( Cuba) said that his country was proud of its African roots. Indeed, Cuba’s cultural roots included a combination of both Hispanic and African heritage. As a result of the slave trade, Cuba took in some 1,300,000 Africans. His country’s cultural expression also echoed the African experience through music, beliefs, religious rituals and its rebellious spirit - a spirit of slaves who rebelled, and that was reflected in the Cuban people.
He then said that as long as the economic order existed where the majority of people were marginalized, colonialism would never end. It was not possible for the past to be ignored and responsibility to be neglected. African countries spent more on foreign debt than they did on education and health. Those nations were instead still financing rich countries, which had pledged official development assistance (ODA) but reneged on those promises while continuing to charge in debt services 100 times more than the ODA promised.
Cuba, he said, co-sponsored the annual resolution on slave trade every year. In 2009, his country founded the first museum on slavery as a living instrument of history and documentation of the slave trade. Concluding, he said that he looked forward to the outcome of the project for the permanent memorial of the slave trade. “It’s the least our Organization can do to [ensure] the effects of the slave trade remain in our minds,” he said.
AMIRAM MAGID (Israel), in regards to the commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, said that such a commemoration allowed the international community to recommit itself to ensure the tragedies of the past served as clear lessons. The transatlantic slave trade “casts a dark shadow over history”, he said, pointing out that 30 million people had been forced from their homes, uprooted from their villages and forced into bondage. Yet, among the stories of unimaginable suffering, there were also stories of hope and survival from people who found unimaginable strength.
The Jewish people also knew the evils of oppression, persecution and slavery, as well as the joy of freedom he went on to say, pointing out that they had built and re-built their national homeland in Israel as a free people. “Driven by our own experience, the Jewish people and the Jewish state continue to lead global efforts to advance the values of tolerance, freedom and understanding,” he said.
As a co-sponsor of the resolution, he said he was proud of his country’s financial contribution to the Permanent Memorial in Honour of Victims of Slavery and the International Slave Trade. The Memorial, which would be seen by world leaders and citizens alike, would provide a permanent reminder of the abhorrence of slavery. It would call for action from every nation, leader, and citizen to do everything they could to ensure no human being was ever enslaved.
However, he continued, millions of people around the world were not free, noting that women were abused as sex slaves and children were traded as property. Further, racism and prejudice were prevalent in the world. He urged that the international community must remember, memorialize and, most importantly, educate, as education was the only way to prevent such crimes and ensure the world’s children and societies understood their obligation to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. His country would stand with the rest of the world and make the pledge that freedom was universal. “We promise to our children that we will never stand idle when we see others being enslaved,” he stated.
DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa), aligning with the statement made on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the adoption of the resolution on the permanent memorial to, and remembrance of, the victims of slavery and the Transatlantic slave trade, stating that the memorial represented a powerful symbol of the victory of mankind over inhumanity. It underscored the indomitability of the human spirit and its ability to overcome unimaginable adversity and hardship against indescribable odds. South Africa commended the ongoing public outreach and educational projects undertaken to give visibility and voice to the memories of countless millions of victims that had perished and suffered as a consequence of slavery and the Transatlantic slave trade.
“We must draw on the lessons learnt from this tragic chapter if human history, together with others constituting crimes against humanity, to collectively address the immense challenge facing the global community in combating contemporary and modern forms of slavery in its various forms and manifestations,” he said. Further, he saw an inextricable link between South Africa’s own struggle for political freedom and emancipation from colonialism and apartheid, to that of slavery. He urged Member States to recommit themselves to the full implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and in particular, the articles that aimed at countering the legacy of slavery and contributing to the restoration of the dignity of the victims of slavery and the slave trade.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India) said that the effects of the violence and suffering of the Transatlantic slave trade were still visible today, and it was therefore imperative to commemorate the struggles undertaken to eradicate the scourge and to pay homage to the millions of victims. The permanent memorial would be a small accomplishment in that regard. Noting progress in the design competition for the memorial and the shortfall of funding for the related trust fund, he reported that his country was the lead contributor. The international community, particularly those who had benefited from the Transatlantic trade, must come forward and contribute generously to the noble cause.
Also supporting education and awareness initiatives on the issue, he welcomed related programmes of the Department of Public Information, including those promoting partnerships with Member States and civil society to address the dangers of racism and discrimination along with the continuing legacy of slavery. He welcomed as well, in that regard, anti-racism initiatives carried out under the Durban Declaration against Racism. The work of the United Nations, he stressed, would never be complete unless all forms of slavery, including present manifestations in the form of racism and xenophobia, were abolished.
DESSIMA WILLIAMS (Grenada), also speaking for Trinidad and Tobago, thanked CARICOM and the African Group for their efforts regarding the 200th Anniversary of the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. She heralded the universal co-sponsor of the resolution, stating that she continued to feel a deep abhorrence for slavery and its history, and would continue to reject it through remembrance work. Expressing satisfaction for the international design competition on the memorial, she said that she looked forward to UNESCO providing the necessary support for a successful conclusion to the initiative.
She then went on to say that 2013 would be the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, and she hoped that that milestone would attract support for the project. Further, the memorial should be placed in a prominent place. It was, she stressed, the very least that could be done in light of the heinous practice and history of slavery. She then thanked Ambassador Wolfe and his country’s delegation for their initiative and efforts in establishing the memorial. CARICOM would do well, she concluded, if it could carry on “the noble work” he had started.
The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution on permanent memorial to and remembrance of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade (document A/67/L.41).
Cooperation between United Nations and Regional Organizations
Moving onto the next topic, AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) introduced a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development — GUAM (document A/67/L.27). He said the member States of the group were guided by and strictly adhered to the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. The main purposes of GUAM included, promoting democratic values, ensuring the rule of law, and respect for human rights and strengthening international and regional security and stability. The working methods of the organization were based on the consensus-based principle and on the developed network of mechanisms and instruments of interaction. The draft resolution had been extensively discussed and negotiated in open transparent manner with Member States, he said, calling for its adoption by consensus.
The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote.
Speaking in explanation of position after action, the delegate of Armenia expressed regret that the process of consultation on the text had not been open and transparent. He urged the representative of Azerbaijan to put aside his country’s national agenda and exercise inclusiveness. As the chair of the consultation process, the representative of Azerbaijan had not exhibited qualifications required for that role. Azerbaijan continued to use economic projects for its political gains. That behaviour contradicts what was said in the resolution. Nevertheless, his delegation joined the consensus.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the delegate of Azerbaijan reminded his Armenian counterpart that the resolution had been adopted by consensus. The text had been proposed in informal consultations, where Armenia had been present. Armenia’s delegation had had a hard copy of it. As the chair of GUAM, it followed required procedures. Azerbaijan did not occupy Armenia’s territory and did not conduct ethnic cleansing. On the contrary, Armenia occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan’s territory and carried out ethnic cleansing.
In response, the representative of Armenia regretted the fact that the representative of Azerbaijan had used the right of reply when he was expected to fulfil his role as the chair of a regional organization. Armenia’s delegation had not been given sufficient time to consider the draft during informal consultations. He went on to draw attention of the text’s co-sponsors to Azerbaijan’s policy of isolating Armenia. “ Azerbaijan loses no opportunity to leave us out of economic projects for the region,” he said. But it was actually Azerbaijan that was being isolated by exhibiting xenophobia. The international community should not tolerate the isolation policy by Azerbaijan.
The representative of Azerbaijan regretted that he had to use the second right of reply. “I have a moral duty to speak when my country was slandered,” he said. Armenia was trying to “turn the situation upside down”. He reiterated that his country’s population had been occupied by Armenia.
The representative of Armenia said his delegation had no intention to use the second right of reply but it was hard to remain silent. Azerbaijan should refrain from propaganda means and instead focus on debate. That country’s delegate had sought to sidetrack the debate. Azerbaijan should fulfil its obligation of contributing to regional security.
KOSAL SEA (Cambodia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations and noting co-sponsors, introduced the biennial draft resolution, cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (document A/67/L.40). He noted that relations between the United Nations and regional organizations had unique and complementary capacities with real potential to help Member States to effectively address current and emerging global challenges. Such relations allowed for the achievement of longstanding international goals and in recent years had strengthened and deepened across a wide spectrum of activities.
On a regional level, he said, the relationship between the United Nations and ASEAN had become increasingly mutually beneficial, as reflected in the biennial resolution and included a partnership and cooperation in the areas of peace and security, socio-economic development humanitarian assistance, environmental protection, disaster management and humanitarian, and the promotion of human rights and democracy.
Further, he went on to say, the draft resolution contained updates that reflected the strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and ASEAN, in particular the adoption of the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership at the Fourth ASEAN-UN Summit in Bali in November 2011, which served to facilitate closer collaborations between the two bodies in collectively addressing emerging global challenges. The Declaration established a more coordinated and cohesive cooperation and bolstered capacity to contribute and respond to global challenges.
The resolution was adopted by consensus.
Speaking after that action, the representative of the United States welcomed the strengthening of cooperation between the regional organization and the United Nations. She reiterated that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration should be implemented along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant instruments, and that her country remained a partner in that matter.
Canada’s delegate stated that she was pleased to join consensus on the resolution and welcomed the strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations and ASEAN in various fields, including the promotion and protection of human rights in all contexts, which were to be implemented in accordance with international obligations.
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