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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines

Open Debate on
“The Role of Civil Society In Post-Conflict Peace-Building”
Security Council Chamber, 22 June 2004



Our discussions could not have come at a more opportune time as the views expressed here today would certainly enrich the elements of the Cardoso Report on the United Nations Relations with Civil Society, recently released by the Secretary-General.

I thank Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Marjatta Rasi, President of ECOSOC, for their valuable inputs in today’s debate. I also thank Messrs. Denis Caillaux of Care International and Ian Martin of the International Center for Transitional Justice, for their views on the role of civil society in post-conflict peace-building, which clearly reflect their vast experience in this area.

Indeed, the wounds of conflict are manifold. They touch upon sensitive roots imbedded in peoples’ psyches. The healing process should therefore lead to a recovery of confidence, an assurance of integrity and a deeply “internalized” sense of peace. This requires a delicate, but firm touch moved by an intimate understanding of and sympathy with a people. By its nature, civil society is gifted with such understanding and sympathy.

In efforts to re-build peace on more enduring foundations, governments, as well as the United Nations, can be helped by a caring and sharing civil society.

Civil society must be compassionate, but resolute, helping suffering peoples let go of negative ill feelings, grasp the value of reconciliation, concentrate on re-integration and reconstruction, and rehabilitate society through hard work and dedication.

With the help of civil society, governments and the United Nations should aim to re-strengthen the national self-confidence and social fabric of traumatized peoples; to encourage and assist them help themselves overcome enormous human-security challenges.

The ruin of factors of production, economic breakdown, and conflict-caused poverty; the collapse of law and order; the exacerbation of long-standing fractiousness must be addressed with professional sobriety.

We are witnesses to the cooperative effort in recent years of national governments, the United Nations, and numerous representatives of civil society in such places as Afghanistan, the Balkans, East Timor and Western Africa. We are poised to pursue the same cooperative endeavor in Iraq.

The partnership of civil society with the United Nations in post-conflict peace building can start from the very design of the project blueprint. Civil society can assist in identifying, understanding, and addressing root causes of conflict, in helping formulate collaborative reconstruction strategies—and perhaps even in resolving the conflict itself.

In the actual peace-building phase, civil society can--with United Nations coordination--assist providing relief, health, education, and other public services; spur economic revival and social recovery; promote advocacy of human rights, ethics, and the rule of law; in catalyzing total human development. For it is with such development that a more lasting peace is achieved.

Owing to civil society’s grass-roots charisma, manifested in its participation in the reconciliation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation process—and even its mere presence--can be therapeutic, a balm to sore wounds. It can evoke a deeper realization of life’s worth after the havoc of war. Civil society’s participation is, therefore, vital for public support and, consequently, for greater legitimacy of peace-building endeavors.

I need not dwell on the elements of cogent strategies, including those for post-conflict peace building. We all realize that it should be: comprehensive in scope and in implementation detail; It must be integrated, recognizing the symbiotic relationship of legal, political, economic, social, and cultural concerns. It must be participative, with contributions from all stakeholders, national and international; and it must be flexible, capable of adjustment to changing circumstances and continuing assessment.

There is absolutely no doubt that civil society can help formulate and implement strategies—contributing information, know-how, fervor, even financial and material resources.

What is now imperative for the United Nations is to have a clearer view of its relations with a civil society that has grown in size and numbers. Cognizant of its “intervention” mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security, and profiting from the “normative idea” of Heifetz and Linsky in their book, Leadership on the Line, which entails “getting on the balcony and stepping back to have a perspective of what is happening while remaining fiercely on the ground,” the United Nations should base its engagement with civil society on policies, mechanisms, and procedures that are coherent, consistent, and predictable.

One of the eminent persons tasked by our Secretary General to consider such engagement, Birgitta Dahl has reported on her Panel’s endorsement of four normative paradigms: first, the United Nations’ role of convening, facilitating, and leading partnerships, not only of governments, but also of all stakeholders, including civil society; second, country-level focus in analysis and implementation; third, encouragement of greater parliamentary and national standing committee participation; and fourth, a shift from an omni-governmental bias to a multilateral society mobilizing the cooperation of coalitions of the willing, following the “highest common principles”.

These paradigms deserve serious attention, not only for the involvement of civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders in post-conflict peace building, but also for their involvement in other issues of global concern.

Let me interject at this point a notion that is by no means new, but deserves keener appreciation—namely, the role of faith groups, as civil society actors, in conflict prevention and post-conflict peace building. Religions do preach peace, not violence, forgiveness not revenge.

Upholding human dignity, justice, accountability, and the rule of law, they exercise a strong moral influence.

Based on in-depth appreciation of problems, their inputs to conflict-prevention and post-conflict peace-building plans and implementation should be optimized.

Clearly, there is a consensus on the crucial role of civil society in global issues. The Secretary-General’s report to ECOSOC and the General Assembly should spur bold and pragmatic action, for it provides us with the mechanics of accreditation, the procedures of consultation, the equilibrium of North-South actors and of stakeholders with differing views, the sharing of costs, and similar practical matters that impact on good order. Delineation of roles and a sound respect for leadership and coordination must be present. This leadership and coordination are expected of us in the United Nations.

The Philippines looks forward to a meaningful outcome of the Secretary-General’s initiative of an NGO international conference in 2005, on the role of civil society in the prevention of armed conflict. We believe that this dialogue will further crystallize the partnership of the UN and civil society and other stakeholders, including the religious sector, particularly in post-conflict peace building.

When conflict ends, healing must begin, and civil society, government and the United Nations, must stand together, bravely, past the frontiers of conflict.

Thank you.




Yesterday, we were divided over Iraq. That should be a forgettable day. Today, we are united over Iraq. This is a great day therefore for Iraq, the Security Council, the United Nations and the international community.

The Philippines is particularly pleased that this eloquent expression of unity on Iraq happened during our presidency. In many significant ways, the resolution just adopted validates the Philippine position of unwavering support for a free democratic, pluralistic and united Iraq.

We can congratulate ourselves for the house we had built in Iraq. We built it with transparency and inclusivity, which led to the unanimous adoption of this important resolution.

The foundations for a lasting edifice are in the resolution: transfer of full sovereignty come June 30; the leading role of the United Nations in assisting in the political process towards a constitutional government; Iraqi ownership of security policies; its financial and natural resources and other attributes of sovereignty.

The challenge now for Iraq and the international community is to translate into action what is given in the resolution and nurture such plan of action on the ground. We are confident that given the atmosphere of accommodation and understanding in the Council and the interest and concern, which this resolution elicited from a great number of states, such challenge could be met with success.

We are happy to have been part of the negotiation of this historic resolution 1546 and to have voted for it.

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