On November 15, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Holy See permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions at Geneva, participated in the third special session of the Human Rights Council, which is considering the situation in Gaza.
"In its short history," said the archbishop speaking English, "the Human Rights Council has faced tough challenges given the persisting violations of human rights in several areas of the world, violations it has not always been able to address with fairness and consistency because of shortsighted political and economic interests. But a Human Rights Council that does not contribute to change the quality of people's life on the ground, … seriously risks a loss of credibility."
"A qualitative step forward in confidence-building," Archbishop Tomasi told the council "would be… the adoption of a courageous method of real dialogue that enables placing on the table the real problems calling for solution no matter how different at the start are the points of view." To this end, he added, "the present special session can be a constructive occasion."
He went on: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been caught in a cycle of violence that… leads nowhere. This tragic spiral of suffering must be broken. Two steps are called for. First, the two peoples involved must recognize each other's humanity and equality and start this process of mutual recognition on a base of justice and respect of fundamental human rights and international and humanitarian law."
"Second, the family of States has a moral responsibility to promote a mentality of peace; to collaborate through practical measures for the elimination of the deep cultural, social and economic roots of violence; to aid and enable the parties involved in pursuing a fruitful collaboration.
"This responsibility," he added, "in the first place is owned to the civilian population, to women and children struck down by unwarranted violence, to young military lives cut short with dreams unfulfilled. Respect of basic human rights, above all the right to life, is not an abstract consideration, but an approach that pays a rich dividend in its political consequences: it makes possible the reaping and enjoyment of the fruits of peace.
"The Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as a major source of instability in the Middle East, becomes a chain in a vicious cycle that produces instability in the whole region. In turn, such instability makes the situation of the population of Palestine and of Israel much worse and the reaching of peaceful goals more difficult.
"If the countries engaged in the region and trying to assist in finding an honorable and just solution to the conflict succeed, they would render an important service to the whole world and show once again how the respect of human rights fosters peace."