General Assembly Cites Need for ‘Moderate Voices’ from all Religions To Work Together in Building More Secure, Peaceful World
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
57th & 58th Meetings (AM & PM)
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.