Tag Archives: diplomacy

Heartbeats above drumbeats

Prayer vigil Syria

We gathered at the Tillman Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations – Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Presbyterians, and more. We shared statements from our various denominations. We prayed – for the people of Syria – for our brothers and sisters who have been killed, wounded, and maimed by chemical weapons and by conventional weapons. We prayed for those who seek peace in the face of violence. We prayed for those who resort to violence that they might turn away and seek peace. We prayed for leaders of the United States and Syria and the world – that they might have the courage and wisdom to seek nonviolent, diplomatic solutions.

We prayed that we all might hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

The use of chemical weapons is abhorrent. It violates international standards and international law. International standards. International law. Thus the only appropriate response lies within the international community. It is not the place for any one nation or any coalition of nations to decide guilt and determine the appropriate response.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

A unilateral response by the United States or any nation flaunts international cooperation and violates the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter – to which the United States as a member of the UN agrees to abide – provides that the Security Council is the appropriate body to maintain the peace and security of the member states.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

Unilateral military action by a state undercuts the authority and integrity of the United Nations and the international system of cooperation. Unilateral military action defies diplomacy and cooperation and denies the possibility of a nonviolent, diplomatic, negotiated solution.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

May we – peoples, leaders, nations – turn from violence and seek alternative solutions.
May the efforts of Syrians to make peace and care for one another be blessed.
May diplomatic initiatives and efforts be redoubled.
May all the parties to the violence in Syria be brought together to negotiate.
May an international peace summit be  convened.
May investigations into the use of chemical weapons take place.
May the results of those investigations be honored – charges filed and trials held and verdicts rendered and sentences enforced.
May the international community act to help Syria rid itself of chemical weapons.
May an embargo be created and enforced against all parties who would provide any weapons to any parties to the violence in Syria.
May humanitarian aid be increased – to refugees, internally displaced, wounded, and all the people of Syria in need.
May humanitarian workers be protected and granted the access needed to meet the people.
May steps that I cannot imagine be taken on the path to peace.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

Unlikely to work?

Perhaps. Certainly it will be difficult.

But one thing that the people of the world has seen again and again is that violence feeds violence and war breeds war. Other options have to be tried.

May we hear the heartbeats of life and love above the drumbeats of war.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, United Nations

Humiliation and diplomacy

The art of diplomacy is to avoid placing yourself in a position where you can be humiliated.
Sergio Vieira de Mello

The book of the moment is Chasing the Flame by Samantha Power – thanks Joe, Joel, and Ryan for the recommendation!

Power tells the story of Sergio Vieira de Mello and his career with the United Nations. Vieira de Mello joined the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 1969 and found himself engaged in many of the most critical UN efforts from the birth of Bangladesh in 1971-72  until his death in Iraq in 2003. As she recounts his life, Power provides insight into the man and a fascinating view of the UN and how it works.

The quote above relates to a moment when UN officials were turned back at a checkpoint in Cambodia as they tried to exercise the free movement promised to the UN by the Paris peace agreement. In the agreement, Cambodia’s four main factions agreed to demilitarize, allow refugees to return, and hold free elections. The UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia, a peacekeeping mission began to arrive in March 1992.

Vieiera de Mello’s assessment of diplomacy resonates with experience. There is wisdom in refraining from asking questions when one knows the answer and does not want to hear it. There is also wisdom in silence when one knows what answers could be and knows that among those answers are some one does not want to hear.

But – does the time not come when for the sake of truth, for the sake of justice, for the sake of others, for the sake of solid relationships – we must move ahead, make ourselves vulnerable, and take the risk of humiliation and even worse? Perhaps the question is how we recognize those times and how we respond when we do?

It will be interesting to see if this concept is explored any further in the book – either directly or simply through the life of Vieira de Mello. There is much to ponder.

See you along the Trail.


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Filed under Books, Friends, United Nations