Holy See Underlines Global Duty to Protect

Urges Use of Non-Violent Interventions

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NEW YORK, JULY 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is underlining the global community’s responsibility to protect life, preferably through non-violent means, when a state cannot do so for its own citizens.

This was the message given Tuesday by the Holy See delegation to the U.N. plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the topic of “Implementing the Responsibility to Protect.”

The statement recalled a meeting of heads of State four years ago at the United Nations, where world leaders adopted the World Summit Outcome Document, affirming the “responsibility of all nations and the international community to protect people from the threat of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

The Holy See discussed three priorities that were outlined by this document.

First, governments were urged to use their authority with responsibility, to protect individuals and the population.

The delegation stated that authorities “fail in their basic functions” when they do not protect civilians, or even worse, aid in the perpetration of crimes.

The statement advocated a “human centered approach to developing policies to protect populations from grave violations of human rights.”

As well, it continued, supporting “greater inclusion and protection of religious, racial and ethnic minorities” will help build dialogue and understanding between populations.

Secondly, the document underlined the responsibility of the international community to “help states build the capacity” to protect their populations.

“Through providing financial and technical support,” the delegation explained, “the international community can help create the means and mechanisms for responding quickly to evolving humanitarian crises.”

In this response, it continued, local, faith-based organizations can be useful to aid with regional knowledge and building bridges within the community.

Dialogue and forgiveness

The third element of the document discussed the international community’s responsibility to “take effective action when a state has failed to exercise properly its authority.”

This element, the delegation noted, “often draws the greatest scrutiny.”

Many times, it explained, the focus has been exclusively on using violence as an intervention.

However, “mediation and dialogue has a greater ability to promote the responsibility to protect than military action,” the Holy See stated.

As well, it added, actions such as sanctions can be used to prevent the “spread of violence.”

The delegation called for “further efforts” so that the “needs of the affected populations, rather than the whims of geopolitical power struggles, are placed in the forefront.”

It stated the necessity of countries to “exercise their authority within the Security Council” in a way that “reflects the selflessness needed for taking an effective, timely and human centered approach to saving people from grave atrocities.”

The statement also noted the role of religious and community leaders in promoting the responsibility to protect.

It continued: “The exploitation of faith in the furtherance of violence is a corruption of faith and of people, and religious leaders are called to challenge such thinking.

“Faith should be seen as a reason to come together rather than divide for it is through faith that communities and individuals are able to find the power to forgive so that true peace can emerge.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-26581?l=english

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