Archbishop Justin Welby will become the first Archbishop of Canterbury to address the UN Security Council when he takes part in an open debate later this month. The Archbishop has been invited to brief an open debate on “mediation and its role in conflict prevention” by the UK’s Ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce. The event, on 29 August, is one two big “discretionary events” being organised by the UK during their rolling presidency of the UN in August.
“Over the years, the UN has been increasing the amount of effort it puts into mediation,” Ambassador Pierce told journalists at a UN press conference. “I think everybody agrees there is still more that could be done there: there is more that we can do to share best practice; there is more we can do to talk about what works.
“A lot of countries – both off and on the [Security] Council – have very personal experiences of how mediation has helped resolve conflict or see off the threat of conflict and we want to tap into that knowledge.”
Archbishop Justin has extensive experience of international mediation and the ambassador reminded journalists that he is a member of the UN Secretary General António Guterres’ High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. “He has a particular offering to make”, she said. “We wanted to have a briefer who we hope Council members will enjoy hearing from. I have heard the Archbishop speak; I think he will be a very good contributor.
“I do know that he comes often to the United Nations and takes his contribution to it seriously.”
She added: “He makes frequent visits to New York [and] is very interested in the work of the United Nations. I had a very good chat with him before I took up my job as ambassador.”
The Anglican Communion has official observer status with the United Nations. The Communion’s Representative to the UN, Jack Palmer-White, described the Archbishop’s invitation to address the Security Council as “a really exciting and significant moment.”
He said: “Not only does his participation as an expert briefer for the debate acknowledge his own expertise on matters of peace and reconciliation, but it is also an opportunity to draw attention to the vital work of mediation, conflict resolution and peace building going on around the Anglican Communion.
“I hope that those participating in the discussions can take away a really clear sense of the important role that churches and other faith actors can and do play in the peaceful resolution of conflicts.”