[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] 7 [/yt_dropcap] February 2017 – Ever since 1964, when it was informally accepted to the United Nations General Assembly, the Holy See has had a permanent seat at international discussions and used its observer status to go on record about matters of peace and human dignity.
“We consider the United Nations not only important but in itself very useful for humanity,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, told UN News.
He went on to say: “The Holy See, the Catholic Church itself, appreciates and considers the United Nations a very important institution for all the nations to come together and discuss problems and even enjoy together what is common.”
The priorities of the Holy See for the year are similar to key UN goals – among them, the quest for peace, providing assistance to migrants and refugees, and nuclear disarmament.
The Holy See is a nearly 2,000-year old term that refers to the international sovereignty of the Pope, or leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican City State is the geographic property that ensures that sovereignty.
This makes the Holy See the only religious entity represented among the 193 UN Member States and Palestine, the other non-member observer state.
What’s more, in a diplomatic world where Member States wrangle for a seat on the Security Council or a senior UN job, the Holy See turned down an opportunity for GA Membership in 2004, when Switzerland, the only other Permanent Observer state at that time, gained full membership.
“That was a very hard decision to make. Saint John Paul II was already very sick at the time, in 2004. I remember very well. It was he himself who took the decision that we should remain as a Permanent Observer state,” the Archbishop recalled. “The fundamental reason is that so that we could remain neutral.”
Religion as justification for killing
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when President Joseph Kabila refused to step down after his second term expired on 19 December 2016, people took to the streets. The demonstrations turned violent.
On New Year’s Eve, political leaders reached an agreement – mediated by the Catholic Church, specifically by the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) – under which presidential elections would be held by the end of 2017, and President Kabila would relinquish control. If successful, this would be the country’s first peaceful transition of power since its independence in 1960.
“The United Nations has been very appreciative of what the Bishops were able to achieve,” Archbishop Auza said, adding that bringing the parties together and mediating avoided “chaos and possible bloodshed in the whole country.”
The Holy See is also active in helping to resolve conflicts in Colombia and Venezuela, where Pope Francis was asked to help mediate in difficult political situations, the Archbishop said.
In Burundi, Mozambique and the Philippines, the Church is active mediating conflicts that pit different religious groups against each other: “The Catholic Church is playing a major role in trying to remedy the impression that religion is a cause of all these conflicts, and also to help other religious leaders understand that their role is very important in trying to prevent wars, conflicts or violence.”
Within the UN, the Holy See delivers its messages by addressing the Security Council, the General Assembly and at special events.
For example, in 2014, the Security Council adopted resolution 2178, condemning violent extremism and urging measures preventing travel related to and support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other foreign terrorist fighters. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, told the Council at the time that in order to counter terrorism, people and countries must achieve social justice for all and mutual cultural understanding.
“The Holy See – which is a sovereign international subject that also represents a world faith community – affirms that people of faith have a grave responsibility to condemn those who seek to detach faith from reason and ‘instrumentalize’ faith as a justification for violence,” Cardinal Parolin said.
Member States of the General Assembly understand the importance of working with religious leaders on international issues. In 2010, the Assembly designated the first week of February every year as World Interfaith Harmony Week. It aims to spread “the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, based on love of God and love of one’s neighbour or on love of the good and love of one’s neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or conviction.”
According to Assembly resolution A/RES/65/5, Member States recognize that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for “peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.”
The tight rope of forced migration
Arguably, no issue has been more polarizing in recent years as the movement of migrants and refugees. Around the world, more than 65 million people are displaced – the greatest number since the Second World War. A record number of migrants and refugees died in the Mediterranean Sea just this winter, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced on Friday.
Archbishop Auza expressed great concern about people forced to flee their homes and about how “societies or nations will just close their eyes or borders to them without doing anything.”
“The Holy Father explicitly asked me while I was in Rome last month actively to engage in the coming inter-governmental negotiations towards a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration,” the Archbishop said of the international agreement expected to be adopted in 2018, which will set out a range of common principles and agreements among Member States on international migration.
The compact was launched with the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants by a UN summit on 19 September 2016. The next discussions are expected to be held in March in Geneva as part of the UN International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) International Dialogue on Migration.
Seasoned in diplomacy, the Holy See is aware of the issues surrounding migration and the challenges some Member States have in aiding refugees and migrants.
“It’s sad that we are noticing a rise in a certain type of nationalism – even a certain xenophobia,” Archbishop Auza said, adding that migration “is also being used as a tool for some political parties to gain power.”
“We understand that migration has negative aspects. As the Holy Father has said, I also appeal to the migrants to respect the cultures and the lives and society of those people who receive them. So it is two-way traffic,” he added.
On issues of migration, as with any other issue, the Holy See offers Member States “orientation and spiritual inspiration,” as stated on the Holy See Mission’s website, as opposed to political support or material aid.
“Simply because we may not agree on a particular issue, we do not disrespect one another,” the Archbishop said of working with Member States, the UN Secretariat and its agencies. “We continue to work together. We continue to be friends. We continue to collaborate while respecting and acknowledging the differences.”
This story is part of a feature series that examines the roles that world religions have at the United Nations and in international diplomacy. (Source: United Nations)
The evolution of the concept of diplomacy
Transformation in diplomacy, like the transformation of other international scenes of international relations, has not stopped at a specific point, and whenever the global structure of transformed diplomacy has changed. Throughout history, various forms of diplomacy have been observed between countries and governments. This development is due to the activity of various factors, and as long as the factors of transformation remain, the process of transformation remains. The new age in international relations has been marked by significant developments in diplomacy. In explaining the dimensions of this evolution, we use the term “modern diplomacy” against classical diplomacy. This paper tries to highlight the historical milestones of this evolution and its components.
The increasing role of global awareness, the diminished governance of states, the growth of information and communication technology, and the growth of non-state actors are among the main factors contributing to the development of diplomacy. Diplomacy involves managing relations between governments and government relations with other Actors. With the changes in the international system, the focus and content of diplomacy have also changed and, as in the past, they are not focused on top policy. In the traditional understanding of realism of international relations, the actions of governments are influenced by tangible factors of power and the content of diplomacy is also a matter of war and peace. In the new environment, new issues such as illegal immigration, human rights, terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, environmental risks, proliferation of arms, transnational trade, financial, economic, non-proliferation, human rights and aid issues Humanitarian, AIDS, population pressure, the prevention of indigenous and ethnic conflicts, and other crises and challenges beyond the international community that traditional diplomacy alone cannot cope with through the methods available. In other words, diplomacy in the information age includes wider areas of economic, social, cultural, environmental, scientific, legal and traditional political and military factors, and the issues of the underlying policy are more important in the agenda of diplomacy.
The five main tasks that the diplomatic apparatus does is to collect information and data, political advice, representation, negotiation, and consular services in a new international environment. New functions have also been developed: helping to enforce international regulations, representing the interests of various state and private actors, facilitating the establishment of relations between national and transnational entities, coordinating the activities of various actors in the interests of national interests, the importance of the policy of convincing and image More flexibility in foreign policy issues, crisis management in the new international environment, the development of transnational flows and the increasing role of non-state actors. Many of these tasks are withdrawn from the monopoly of the diplomatic apparatus and are carried out by new actors, while governments are still the most important actors in international politics. But at the same time, they have to divide their duties and responsibilities with diverse, broad-based, state-owned, non-state actors, transnational, and sub-national actors in different fields.
Changing the content of diplomacy, its implementation and guidance has also changed. In this new international environment, the existence of complex diplomatic relations between actors with various interests and boundaries is unclear. This undermines the role of governments in monopoly conduct and enforcement Issues and issues of foreign policy. Prior to the departure of information technology, ambassadors and diplomatic representatives had more relative credibility and independence to conduct diplomatic affairs, such as negotiating and representing duties. In traditional diplomacy, the true role of diplomats was, depending on their personal capacity, the power of the government and the powers given to them by the governments. Diplomats were aristocrats from the upper classes of the community. Bilateral relations were important to them. The protocol and procedures were of great importance.
However, as a result of the development of these technologies, the duties and responsibilities of diplomats have been subject to fundamental changes, and the facilitation of extensive and direct contact with governmental and non-governmental entities across national borders has been facilitated. If the main duties of diplomats prior to this change, the delivery of the message Leaders of countries, attending various ceremonies and formalities, sending information and negotiating, and sometimes making decisions when needed, have now changed these tasks for the sake of high-tech messaging. From the aspect of ceremonial ceremonies and diplomatic events, the concepts of these traditions have changed. In terms of sending information, the role of diplomats has lost much of its importance and also because of the natural circumstances of diplomats, diplomats consider that instead of persuading one or more people should be held accountable to public opinion and diplomatic talks It has been outsourced to a multilateral shape. In the current era, governments usually prefer diplomacy by politicians rather than diplomats. Between the heads of high-level media, private and informal relationships have been created, and the private diplomacy of heads of state and meetings, meetings, negotiations and treaties has increased. However, despite all the changes made in the implementation and guidance of diplomacy, the role of diplomats and their diplomatic expertise cannot be denied.
With the telecommunication revolution, the increase in information and the exchange of information between different countries, on the one hand, the world has become smaller and convergence has increased among countries, and on the other hand the international system has become more complex. These transformations have portrayed the role of diplomats in such a way that the existence of communications devices such as radio and television, and diplomats with more delicate tasks. On the other hand, increasing communication has had a great impact on one of the other responsibilities of diplomats, namely the gathering of information, since the spread of a variety of communication tools has made it possible to more accurately aggregate information. The Internet also created virtual communities to engage people in foreign countries that are not limited to geographical boundaries. The rapid transfer of information from mass media and new communication technologies such as satellite and Internet has ultimately led to a change in public opinion and Directions to it are intended to take advantage of new tools.
The use of new technologies in diplomacy plays an important role in facilitating and expediting negotiations, exchanging and accessing information, expediting exchanges, influencing public opinion and increasing global relations, and making the diplomatic apparatus of the countries more efficient. In the past, traditional national security tools, such as diplomacy, have addressed the physical effects of national power, such as military power and economic power, but these are not suited to new challenges and new international environments. As a result, soft power, public diplomacy, thematic, specialized diplomacy are the main elements of new diplomacy that must be met with countless actors with different interests.
Most new tools for dealing with the new challenges come from information, awareness, and out-of-state control of the state and associated with modern communication technologies. The ability of diplomacy to face new challenges and threats requires structural reforms in the use of modern tools and techniques. Today, diplomacy requires communicating with the public media, which requires special attention. “Advertising” and “public opinion” are two of the most influential factors in diplomacy. There is now a close relationship between diplomacy and the press and mass media. The broad range of people’s access to information through satellite and computer networks has flooded the socio-political environment and brought dynamism and transparency into the political literature of the twenty-first century.
Potentials of cultural diplomacy in Iran- Belgium relations
Term ‘Diplomacy’ stands for guiding of relations between individuals, groups, and nations and it is one of political terms used in the field of international ties. Under current conditions in the world, rather than the subjects which have proposed on diplomatic discussion between various countries such as commercial relations and cultural and scientific ties, this concept plays important role in improvement of world peace and international security. Basically, diplomacy is an important tool for realization of national interests within political, economic, and cultural relations between nations and diplomacy requires for adaption of special and professional forms of interaction between agents of nations in various fields e.g. politics, trade, and cultural ties etc. so that it is discussed about political diplomacy, economic diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, and public diplomacy and the like.
The cultural diplomacy is deemed as one of the efficient and important techniques in relations between nations that aim to improve cultural, scientific and educational relations which will be consequently led to enhancement of political and economic relations as well. This type of diplomacy looks for deepening of cultural relations among the countries and improvement of relation and interdependence between them and upgrading of level of recognition and perception of various international environments and it is implemented through different tools such as educational and academic relations and holding of various conferences and academic communications, exchange of teacher and students, educational and researching cooperation, artistic exchanges (cinema and theatre etc.), games and sports, festivals and holding of book fair etc. and currently this type of diplomacy has devoted high capacity at the international arenas.
Principally, Iran and Belgium are two important and influential countries in both Asian and European continents and improvement of communication between these two countries may lead to strengthening of relations among Europe and Asia and the Middle East.
Due to geographic situation, high population (over 75 million), wide economic market, cultural and civilization potentials, and power for influence in Islamic world, Iran enjoys high potential effect in Asia, the Middle East, and Islamic world and at the same time Belgium is a country with approximately 11million peoples is also deemed highly important in Europe for the following reasons: Firstly, the presence of several wide road arteries, great ports and significant airports has converted Belgium into a transit hub at Europe; furthermore, this country enjoys the annual volume of foreign trade up to 700 billion Euros and possesses advanced industries including in the field of transportation etc. secondly, this country is the headquarter of European Union (EU) and the related institutes and for this reason it is called as European capital ‘ therefore, it highly influences in Europe EU. At third place, Belgium is presently the fifth trading partners for Iran among EU countries where the existing potentials can be developed.
The scientific and cultural cooperation is the complementary dimension for these potentials which may have synergic effect on relations between two countries and cultural diplomacy id the foremost tool in such communications. One of important examples of these potentials is the educational and researching relations between two countries as well as holding of joint meetings, conferences and workshops and exchanges of cultural and artistic products for which this diplomacy may prepare the ground for improvement of relations other cooperation fields. Accordingly, in addition to contribution to interests of both countries, such diplomacy can pave the way for more extensive relations among Europe and Iran and even under current conditions when the world suffers from insecurity, extremism, and terrorism, such scientific and cultural relations and interaction and communications between elites of two nations can contribute to creation of common perception of threats to which the world peace and symbiosis is exposed in order to strengthen moderate and peaceful discourses among Islamic world and the west.
First published in our partner Mehr News Agency
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