Update Report

Posted 21 May 2010
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Update Report No. 3: Lebanese Prime Minister to Chair Council Meeting on Intercultural Dialogue

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Expected Council Action
On 26 May Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri will preside over an open meeting of the Security Council on Intercultural Dialogue for Peace and Security (Lebanon holds the presidency this month). Hariri will deliver the opening statement, followed by an address from the Secretary-General.

At press time, no Council decision was expected.

Background
In a background paper for the 26 May meeting Lebanon noted the work of the General Assembly since 2001 on strengthening religious and cultural tolerance, the 2005 establishment of the Alliance of Civilizations, the 2008 high-level meeting on the Culture of Peace (an initiative of Saudi Arabia) and the designation of 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures.

Lebanon suggests that the Security Council consider the theme of intercultural dialogue as an instrument in:

  • preventive diplomacy;
  • conflict management and resolution; and
  • peacebuilding.

To this end, the note described a contemporary atmosphere of tension with the potential for violence created by religious and cultural stereotypes compounded by perceptions of injustice and double standards (specifically citing situations of occupation and oppression). It suggested that the Council has a role to play promoting intercultural dialogue as a mechanism for maintaining peace and security. In particular, it noted the Security Council’s work over the past decade in resolutions 1366 highlighting conflict prevention as a major part of the Council’s work) and 1645 (establishing the Peacebuilding Commission).

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, in his address to the General Assembly on 25 September 2009, signalled his country’s unique potential to be a centre for the dialogue between civilisations, cultures and religions. In regards to Lebanon’s potential Security Council membership, Sleiman focused in particular on peace and security in the Middle East (at the time Lebanon was in a bid for an elected Council seat for 2010-11 which it subsequently won).

Preventive diplomacy has been a focus in the Secretariat and the General Assembly in recent years. A mediation unit was established in March 2008 as part of the strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs, approved by the General Assembly.

Doing conflict prevention better was also one of the topics on the agenda at the Greentree Retreat which Security Council members held with the Secretary-General from 30 April to 1 May.

Relevant Past SCR Reports

Key Issues
A key issue is whether the Council members are ready to use this meeting to discuss, more concretely and in a public setting, the Council’s role in conflict prevention and mediation—in effect building on their discussion at the Greentree Retreat—in addition to the expected general endorsement of the concept of intercultural dialogue.

Options
One option for the Council is to simply listen to Prime Minister Hariri’s address and the Secretary-General’s briefing and for the members individually to reiterate their national positions on the intercultural dialogue concept.

Another option is for members to also explore Council practice regarding conflict prevention and mediation and their positions on developing a more robust Council role.

A final option is for members to reflect also on the positive role that a more active Council input on the comprehensive Middle East peace process could play, using conflict prevention and mediation tools.

Council Dynamics
Lebanon views itself as distinctly placed to foster this conversation in the Council since it is a diverse, post-conflict society with a vested interest in sustainable peace in its region.

Council members are generally supportive of the Alliance of Civilizations (all P5 members plus Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico and Turkey are members).

In the context of the Middle East, there has in the past been reliance by some on the use of existing mechanisms, including the Quartet and bi-lateral initiatives.

Selected UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1645 (20 December 2005) established the Peacebuilding Commission.
  • S/RES/1366 (30 August 2001) highlighted conflict prevention as a major part of the Council’s work.

General Assembly Documents

  • GA/10784 (13 November 2008) was a press release on the high-level meeting on the Culture of Peace.
  • A/RES/62/90 (17 December 2007) was a resolution declaring 2010 the International Year for Rapprochement of Cultures.
  • A/RES/60/1 (16 September 2005) was the World Summit Outcome which welcomed the Alliance of Civilizations.

Other

  • S/PV.6322 and SC/9936 (26 May 2010) was the meeting record and subsequent press release for the debate on Intercultural Dialogue for Peace and Security.
  • S/2010/248 (19 May 2010) was the letter transmitting the concept paper for the Security Council meeting on the theme “Intercultural Dialogue for Peace and Security.”
  • PA/1 (5 March 2008) was a press release on the creation of a mediation unit in the Department of Political Affairs.

Useful Additional Sources