Programme for National Prayers for Peace, Upholding Rule of Law and Religious Co-existence
Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), Lilongwe
14 December 2019
Closing Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator: Ms. Maria Jose Torres
- As I start my short remarks, please allow me to read a few quotes:
- In Chapter 13 (Principles of National Policy) the 1994 Constitution of Malawi (as amend in 2017) states quite clearly in 13(l) on “Peaceful Settlement of Dispute” that Malawians are called upon “To strive to adopt mechanisms by which differences are settled through negotiation, good offices, mediation, conciliation and arbitration”.
- Psalm 133 King James Version (KJV) reads “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”!
- Writing on The Quranic Calls for Inter-faith Dialogue Meraj Ahmad Meraj wrote recently (May 18, 2019) “Interfaith dialogue tries to harmonize the religious groups in such a way that their common features such as brotherhood, love, compassion, tolerance, and mutual respect can be shared. Interfaith dialogue promotes intercultural values and peace-building initiatives to lay the foundation for peaceful coexistence, harmony, and brotherhood”.
- Dag Hammarskjold one of our first Secretary Generals said: In the presence of God, nothing stands between Him and us-we are forgiven. But we cannot feel His presence if anything is allowed to stand between ourselves and others.
- Malawi is living today a critical time in its history, as a young nation and even a younger democracy the present times have opened important questions on how to achieve an inclusive society governed by peace and justice; the future also calls upon the leaders today united in this prayer for unequivocal action, calls upon them to remain united after today to honour the principles of peaceful coexistence embraced in the Malawi Constitution.
- The United Nations, humbly, stands by you today. As a partner, as the Organization that has always accompanied Malawi and its people in its quests for development and human rights. We are guided in our engagement with all of you by the Prevention Priorities as enunciated by the UN Secretary General, allow me to refer to two:
- Prioritize early warning and early action on preventing violent conflict by Supporting national capacities for facilitation and dialogue; and use of UN good offices
- Advance a preventive approach to human rights by (i) developing a policy framework that identifies basic elements needed to prevent human rights violations; and (ii) stablishing a preventive matrix that will chart progress and gaps in the use of a range of human rights instruments.
- The Principal Law (the Constitution) is clear on issue Peaceful Settlement of Dispute. The country is close to creating a home-grown national mechanism for early warning/early action and peaceful resolution of disputes – an inclusive and independent Malawi Peace Commission. Reach the last mile and complete this work to help you identified root causes for the recurrent post-election challenges. We as the UN will accompany you in your journey to attain your goals through our support pillar on “Peace, Inclusion and Effective Institutions”. This is SDG 16.
- As we await the Court decision on elections we call upon all Malawians to respect the rule of law, to respect the Judiciary, to show tolerance (whether political or religious) for views different from our own, to show compassion for fellow citizens – and to put Malawi first.
- Any breakdown in the rule of law – affects peace and economic development. Any violent conflict affects always women, girls and children first and harder than others; those most vulnerable are always the ones to suffer the consequences; it always takes a bigger toll on young people and this breaks families and fragment societies.
- As our late Kofi Annan, a Secretary General particularly wise and inspiring UN leader from this continent said: Good, healthy democratic societies are built on three pillars: there is peace and stability, economic development, and respect for rule of law and human rights.
- The UN thanks PAC for their tireless work to bring leaders together on what unites them: their love for Malawi and their deep religious principles.
- The UN joins this prayer for peace, for rule of law, for unity of all Malawians. There is space for all in this prayer: all religions, all languages, different color of skin, gender or political ideas; there should be space for all in Malawi in 2020. For a lot us, it Festive Season. It is a time to actively link with family and friends – all Malawians!