Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: The Role of Reconciliation

Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 19, 2019


Thank you very much, Lord Ahmad, it’s great to see you here with us today and thank you to our briefers for your very insightful and concrete recommendations. It was good to have the Secretary-General here, as always.

The birth of the United Nations delivered a powerful message of peace to a world shattered by war. Since 1945, this institution has been the world’s preeminent multilateral forum for dialogue, debate, and perhaps most importantly, reconciliation. These are initiatives that the United States fully supports. We seek justice for victims, and accountability for those responsible for atrocities. We create programming, provide technical support, and elevate the voices of those who are most vulnerable. And we furnish significant funding for these efforts. We also recognize the vital work of the UN’s Special Representatives and Special Envoys, as well as the UN fact finding missions, to bring greater reconciliation to communities battered by conflict. We also recognize the role of women, as others have this morning, in advancing lasting and sustained reconciliation in peace agreements.

There are many specific opportunities for this body to build towards reconciliation in our time, and I’d like to address just a few of them this morning. In Syria, the United States firmly believes that the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism has a vital role to play in gathering information on serious crimes committed in the country. We applaud the progress that the Triple IM has achieved in the last year, and we are proud to both provide an additional $2 million this year and support efforts to fund the Triple IM from the UN regular budget.

We honor the resiliency of Syrian civil society leaders who have risked their lives to document human rights abuses and protect victims of atrocities. Their work is instrumental in promoting justice and accountability in Syria – both of which will be critical to any real solution to the conflict.

In Burma, addressing security force abuses of ethnic minority groups will be essential to meaningful reconciliation. To that end, we welcome the UN Fact Finding Mission for Myanmar’s documentation of human rights abuses committed in Myanmar since 2011, including against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, and against other vulnerable communities in Kachin, Shan, and elsewhere across the country. I would also like to reiterate our strong support for the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. As in Syria, the United States is deeply appreciative of Burmese civil society organizations that, under conditions of great danger, continue to document human rights abuses and pursue accountability for those responsible for atrocities.

In Iraq, we must not waver from holding ISIS accountable for the atrocity it committed against all Iraqis. No segment of Iraqi society, including those from diverse faiths and communities, escaped ISIS’s terror. To begin a process of healing and reconciliation, we must develop a balanced and truthful account of events. Supported by the Government of Iraq and unanimously endorsed by the Security Council again this September, the United States continues to be a strong supporter of UNITAD’s mandate to collect, store, and preserve evidence of ISIS’s atrocities that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Also, in Iraq, UNAMI is playing a pivotal role in partnering with the Government and the people of Iraq to advance inclusive political dialogue towards the aim of national and community-level reconciliation.

And in South Sudan, the UN Mission there has engaged in peace talks and is empowering communities to undertake similar dialogues, some of which result in conflict resolution at the local level. But while these efforts can help achieve some reconciliation, they are insufficient without a larger, government-led effort to heal the wounds caused by the five-year war.

The United Nations has a unique ability to foster peace and reconciliation around the world, and the Unites States believes that through mediation, accountability, and justice for victims, the United Nations can make proper use of this ability. This Council and the United Nations can count on the United States to continue supporting these efforts, for the work of reconciliation in the name of human flourishing is nothing less than our highest calling.

Thank you.