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Security Council – Meeting in Arria-formula

Statement delivered by Ambassador Inigo Lambertini, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting in Arria-formula on “Religious leaders for a safe world” —

At the outset, I wish to thank Kazakhstan and the Alliance of Civilizations for organizing this very timely meeting.

Today we are witnessing a new eruption of religious factors into international relations and religious stakeholders playing a greater role in foreign policy. Indeed, many of the crises we witness today are linked to religious or ethnic intolerance and hatred and in some cases have the potential for escalating into genocide.

Acts of terrorism, manifestations of radicalization, intolerance and violent extremism – which also affect Europe – should prompt us to reflect deeply on the importance of dialogue among religions; the education of youth in the values of tolerance and mutual respect; and of the challenges of integration and social inclusion within our communities. We deeply appreciate the work done by the Alliance of Civilizations to this regard.

Mr. President,
The current international scenario shows us the importance of upholding freedom of religion and belief not only as a human right on its own but also as a tool for promoting peaceful, stable and economically developed societies. Italy firmly believes that the protection of religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities is not just an ethical, humanitarian or religious imperative. It is a guarantee of peace and stability and, as such, a fundamental part of our broader commitment to promote and guarantee effective protection of human rights.

Religious leaders can play an important role both in promoting religions as a tool for peace, solidarity and mutual understanding between different cultures and in countering those voices – which are sadly numerous, especially on the web and social media – promoting oppression and hatred of “ the other”. Several positive examples of political mediation efforts carried out by religious leaders testify to their great work in promoting peace and dialogue. I would like to just mention the commendable efforts of the Episcopal Conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in reaching the 31 December 2016 Agreement as well as the remarkable contribution of the religious platform to the peace process in the Central African Republic.

To conclude, we believe that a way to promote social and ethnic inclusiveness is to empower those components of civil societies that reject intolerance and sectarianism, to help them become positive actors of change. It is not a coincidence that intolerance and tensions toward the moderate components of a given society are often the signs of imminent gross human rights violations that can escalate into war crimes, genocides or crimes against humanity.

For this reason, our country has been one of the main contributors to the “Framework of Analysis” as a tool for assessing the risk of atrocity crimes. It places a crucial emphasis on the role of non-State actors, such as religious leaders and the media. Italy hosted one of the regional seminars on the role of religious leaders in preventing atrocity crimes with the participation of Special Adviser Dieng and about 30 religious leaders, held in preparation of the Plan of Action. The outcome of the meeting was a series of recommendations for a regional strategy to implement a Plan of Action to prevent incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes.

We therefore support meetings like this one and encourage the organizers to convey its conclusions to the membership, in order to implement the lessons learned and the best practices shared today at national level.

I thank you.