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New York
Wednesday, 24 September 2014



Mr. President,

My Delegation congratulates the United States of America on assuming the Presidency of the Security Council and commends the convening of this timely open debate on "Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts".

Mr. President,

Today’s debate comes at a time when every region of the world faces the dehumanizing impact of terrorism. This is not a phenomenon which impacts only certain peoples, religions or regions but rather is a crime which impacts the entire international community. The ongoing, and in some regions, escalating use of terrorism is a reminder that such a shared challenge requires a shared commitment from all nations and people of good will. Indeed, terrorism represents a fundamental threat to our common and shared humanity since it dehumanizes both perpetrator and victim and seeks to destroy freedom and human dignity rooted in the natural moral order, replacing it instead with the logic of fear, power and destruction.(1)

This institution was founded in the wake of an era in which a similar nihilistic view of human dignity sought to destroy and divide our world. Today, as then, nations must come together in order to fulfill our primary responsibility to protect people threatened by violence and direct assaults on their human dignity.(2)

As, Pope Saint John Paul II reminded us in the wake of the tragic events of 11 September 2001, the right to defend countries and peoples from acts of terrorism does not provide license to merely meet violence with violence but rather "must be exercised with respect for moral and legal limits in the choice of ends and means. The guilty must be correctly identified, since criminal culpability is always personal and cannot be extended to the nation, ethnic group or religion to which the terrorists may belong." Moreover, we are discussing this matter in a body that is part of an international legal framework that is obligatory for all countries. Hence, any action against terrorism beyond the frontiers of the country which is directly under attack, as defined by article 51 of the Charter of the United Nation, should be sanctioned by the Security Council. Pacta sunt servanda is one of the core principles of international law.

International cooperation must also address the root causes upon which international terrorism feeds in order to grow. Moreover, the present terroristic challenge has a strong cultural component. Young people travelling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organizations are often youth of poor immigrant families, deluded by what they feel as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of values of some wealthy societies. Together with the legal tools and resources to prevent citizens from becoming foreign terrorist fighters, Governments should engage with civil society to address the problems of communities most at risk of recruitment and radicalization and to achieve their smooth and satisfactory social integration.

Mr. President,

The Holy See – which is a sovereign international subject that also represents a world faith community – affirms that people of faith have a resolute responsibility to condemn those who seek to detach faith from reason and to instrumentalize faith as a justification for violence. As Pope Francis reiterated during his visit to Albania, "Let no one consider using God as a shield while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression! May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all, the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom!"(3) But, at the same time, it should be stressed that to end the new terroristic phenomenon, the goal of achieving cultural understanding among peoples and countries, and social justice for all, is indispensable. As Pope Francis stated, "whenever adherence to a specific religious tradition gives birth to service that shows conviction, generosity and concern for the whole of society without making distinctions, then there too exists an authentic and mature living out of religious freedom."(4)

Thank you Mr. President.


1 Cf. Pope John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace, No Peace Without Justice No Justice Without Forgiveness, 1 January 2002, para 4

2 Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with the Member of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 18 April 2008.

3 Pope Francis, Address at Welcoming Ceremony in Tirana, Albania, 21 September 2014.

4 Ibid.