Your Excellencies, the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Finland: We thank your governments for organizing this meeting of the UN Group of Friends of Mediation.
It is self-evident that mediation is an essential tool for the peaceful settlement of genuine disputes. In all honest disagreements it plays the vital role. The only time it does not is when the dispute arises from one side’s unjust and illegal demand for the other side’s complete submission to its will; followed by the latter’s refusal. Then you have aggression.
The Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes gave the legal framework for the peaceful settlement of international disputes: parties in deep dispute, on the verge of open conflict, shall first of all try to settle it by peaceful means; needless to say mediation. On the 40th year of the Declaration, we reaffirm our commitment to it.
While this is a strictly internal matter; a purely domestic issue that is in no way covered by the Manila Declaration; so that any outside interference will be deeply resented and appropriately responded to by us; indeed, this is why we insist that all foreign assistance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) be approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs; nonetheless, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is a good example of successful mediation.
It has brought peace to a strife-torn part of our one and indivisible Republic; at great loss of its great potential to be prosperous. And all without sacrificing so much as the tiniest aspect or particle of the Republic’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity; without sacrificing the safety, security, nor any of the legitimate expectations of those living in Southern Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte said it best: “The creation of the BARMM brings us a step closer to the realization of our decades-old dream of a peaceful region governed by the autonomous government that serves all Muslims, Christians, lumads and other indigenous peoples, and every Filipino who also call Mindanao their home.”
This is “proof of our determination to bring genuine peace and development to Muslim Mindanao through a responsive government that truly reflects the identity of its people.” Note: “people” in the singular. All and only Filipinos.
The key is sincerity proved by complete transparency between the parties as to their intentions and actions. And this is achieved only by mediation; never by imposition; unless the unity and therefore the life of the Republic is at stake. Then history takes over again.