Statement delivered by Ambassador Teddy L. Locsin Jr. at the United Nations General Assembly Debate—60th Plenary Meeting Agenda Item 15: Culture of peace, on December 8.
The Philippines highly commends the President of the General Assembly for convening the High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace. The Philippines, likewise, lauds the unflagging effort of the Secretary-General to sustain the peace agenda, declaring 2017 as the “year for peace,” and calling for a “surge in diplomacy for peace.” An ironic echo of the famed but failed surge in Afghanistan for the same peaceful purpose.
As UN member-states, we share the aspiration and responsibility to achieve a world at peace through mutual respect, tolerance, acceptance, reconciliation and respect for the rule of law, whereby conflict is avoided and injustice corrected— by means conducive to peace rather than provocative of war.
For the Filipino people, this goal is a natural. We have been victims of atrocities in two wars: One of independence and the other of liberation, but we have never committed atrocities.
We are a nation that has never committed massive human-rights violations that provoke conflict—and has ever committed itself to avoiding conflict and promoting peace at home and abroad. The Philippines has never adopted war as a means of teaching a lesson or exacting revenge but always as a last resort because peace without freedom and justice is also unacceptable to Filipinos.
With Pakistan, we have cosponsored since 2004 the GA resolution on the “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace.” Its objectives are two-fold: One, to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue to achieve peace and stability and as the most promising course for realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and two, to strengthen mechanisms and take appropriate action to promote sincere and constructive dialogue across cultural and religious divides. The first reduces the material causes of conflict arising from the frustration of basic human needs. The second reduces the intellectual obstacles to mutual understanding, thereby fostering mutual respect and tolerance despite continuing disagreement.
In building a high-trust Philippine society, President Duterte is unequivocally committed to a “peace agenda that accompanies a long-term development agenda for areas threatened by armed conflict.” Where people have nothing to lose, there…there is where they are prepared to lose everything in conflict in the hope of taking something away from others.
We are now following a new peace and development road map for the Bangsamoro Peace Process. It is characterized by the inclusion of all and not just select Muslim groups; continuing dialogue rather than hectoring monologue; confidence-building initiatives involving all stakeholders and not just the politically connected; the consolidation and convergence of prior peace agreements; and a readiness—so rare in other conflicts—to acknowledge the self-identity of our Muslim Filipino brothers and sisters as Bangsamoro.
We Filipinos are so confident of our singular national identity that we do not fear calling by their proper names the differences that make the Philippines a diverse and interesting nation.
In the spirit of inclusivity, in the desire for the widest participation and in the hope of the closest convergence, we want our fellow citizens—the Bangsamoro—along with the larger national community to take ownership of peace building.
To this end, the government has expanded the peace table to include “informal peace tables.” A Peace Caravan is going cross-country so officials may engage in peace conversations to gather insights on how to create more avenues for dialogue and better bridges of peace.
We are speeding up delivery of programs to rebuild the devastated places and restore the equanimity of war-torn communities. This will give them a stake in keeping the peace and avoiding quarrels leading to conflict.
The Philippines attaches great importance to religious and faith-based organizations in playing a bigger role to prevent the outbreak and escalation of violence and expand the constituency for peace.
In a conflict misidentified as religious, it is important for the religious of all faiths to clarify what is religion and what is just bloody ambition; what is prayer and what is rapine disguised as piety. The sexual use and trade of women and children can never qualify as a religious rite. It is pure evil deserving to be punished as such—relentlessly.
The Philippines recognizes the crucial role of women in promoting the peace agenda. They, who make homes and keep families provided and united, have the biggest stake and the deepest understanding of the requirements of peace. The Philippines is the first country in Asia to adopt a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. It incorporates much knowledge gained from the role of women in conflict situations, not least the imperative of gender equality between women who bind the wounds of war and men who inflict them.
The rehabilitation of Marawi City demonstrates the Philippine government’s commitment to attaining peace with security, prosperity, justice, law and order.
The Philippines stands in solidarity with nations committed to securing a just and enduring peace, a shared prosperity and partnerships productive of those aims. And if history will judge the United Nations on its role in the unfolding narratives of war and peace, it should be a compelling story of hope and healing, reconciliation and renewal and a peace that passes all expectations going by the tragic history of mankind.