The Holy See on June 13, 2018, affirmed its concerns about escalating violence in the Middle East, especially the need to protect civilians.
The concerns came in a statement by Archbishop Bernardito Auza Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Thirty-Eighth Plenary Meeting of the Tenth Emergency Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Here is the archbishop’s statement:
The Delegation of the Holy See wishes to express its appreciation to the Member States for their commitment to protect Palestinian civilian population, to avert new rounds of violence and to promote dialogue and negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on the peace process.
The Holy See Delegation would like to echo the concern that Pope Francis voiced in face of “the escalation of tensions in the Holy Land and in the Middle East” and His “great sorrow for the victims and wounded” and closeness to all who suffer.
As we have repeatedly experienced, “war begets war, violence begets violence” and “the spiral of violence (…) deviates even farther from the path of peace, dialogue, and negotiation”. On the contrary, peace is the “vital requirement for the full enjoyment of all human rights by all”; every human being has the right to enjoy peace and see it restored in the shortest time possible.
The Holy See has recently had occasion to point out that the Fourth Geneva Convention puts the protection of civilians at the heart of international humanitarian law. The 1977 Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions significantly improve the legal protection covering civilians and the wounded. It is, therefore, a humanitarian imperative to avoid the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructures as a tactic of conflict, as well as the politicization and militarization of humanitarian aid.
The Holy See, therefore, once again “calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity”.
The Holy See would like to renew its appeal that “wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to prevent additional new elements of tension in a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by many cruel conflicts”.
There should be no doubt that the Holy City of Jerusalem is a place of great religious significance not only for the inhabitants of the Holy Land but also for the worshippers of the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions all over the world. For this reason, the Holy See reiterates what it has already expressed during the Thirty-Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Tenth Emergency Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly, held on 21 December 2017, that it is “the obligation of all Nations to respect the historical status quo of the Holy City, in accordance with the relevant UN Resolutions,” and that “only an internationally guaranteed status can preserve its unique character and be an assurance of dialogue and reconciliation for peace in the region.”
Thank you, Mr. President.
1. Pope Francis, Appeal at the end of the General Audience of 16th May 2018.
4. A/HRC/RES/35/4; A/RES/71/189.
5. H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza Statement – United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Protection of civilians in armed conflict, New York, 22 May 2018.
6. Pope Francis, Invocation for Peace, Vatican Gardens, 8 June 2014, in the presence of Presidents Shimon Peres and Abu Mazen.
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