Posted by Paweł A. Makowski

Pope John Paul II reminded United Nation delegates that their organization truly serves „as a center of effective mediation for the resolution of conflicts”. Such a mission enhances the quality of international life, not simply by providing a reliable mechanism for dispute settlement, but: by fostering values, attitudes and concrete initiatives of solidarity”. As a result, relations between nations may acquire more of an „organic” character and not merely an „organizational” one. The hope is that „existence with others” may translate as „existence for others”. But the Pope remains steadfastly committed to his conviction that non-violent conflict resolution and management are indispensable to the welfare and destiny of humanity. It is a theme which constantly echoes throughout his speeches to successive diplomatic gatherings. The 1999 New Year message was unequivocal in its declaration that „war is always destructive of our humanity and that peace is undoubtedly the pre-condition for human rights”.

Effective mediation

May well have been an aspect of what the Pope had in mind when, in 1996, he implored the international community to offer „juridical and diplomatic instruments” on behalf of „the sensitive issue of the City of Jerusalem”. According to the Pope, the conduct of negotiation is basic to any hope for a „just and adequate solution” to this dilemma. And he went on to commend the „strenuous work of courageous negotiators” as they labor throughout the world’s numerous trouble laden locations.


One such application of that negotiation endeavor is the divisiveness and deprivation of property taking place in Cyprus. Should negotiations be intensified, a „successful conclusion” is at least possible. The Pope regrets that „dialogue and negotiation” are rejected, however, by Southern Sudan. But he is able to credit „patient negotiations” as being critical to preparations for the 1997 return of Hong Kong to the sovereignty of mainland China. It is those negotiations which accentuate key issues of „respect for differences”, for fundamental human rights, and for an embrace of the rule of law. Similarly, it is the „negotiating table” which may yield a remedy for the region of the African Great Lakes. The regional organizations of Africa, for instance, are compelled to probe why international indifference is often the reactions to the area’s humanitarian tragedies. An increase in political activity must offset such dangers as „the carving up of territories or the displacement of populations”. Otherwise, the results may defy control. „The security of a country or region cannot be founded on the accumulation of risk”.


Diplomatic negotiations presume that importance is attributed to dialogue. All forms of dispute settlement, mediations among them, are „effective” only inasmuch as they generate an ongoing willingness to dialogue. The term „dialogue” is a constant in Pope John Paul’s diplomatic discourse. For example, in 1998 he sought to „encourage the resumption of dialogue” between opposition parties in Northern Ireland. And he requested that those voices in Algeria „who believe in dialogue and fraternity”. Might be: „finally heard”. Similarly, he pledged that the Holy See will „continue to dialogue” as regards the Middle East peace process. The Pope thus wishes to further the principles of the 1991 Madrid Conference and „the guidelines of the 1993 Oslo meeting”. It is diplomatic dialogue, he contends, which may rescue „peace and… heal the wounds of injustice”.

Dialogue undertaken on behalf of China is again mentioned in the Pope’s speech of 1999. Also on that occasion he talked of the capacity of dialogue to defuse hostilities in the Balkans. „Only honest dialogue”, notably in the instances of the Middle East, Algieria, and Cyprus, can dissolve political deadlock and spare people from being wedged „indefinitely between war and peace”. In his 2000 speech to the diplomatic corps „calm dialogue between cultures and religions” was numbered as a „precise commitment to international solidarity”. And dialogue as the core of multilateral diplomacy was praised for instituting conversation between the two Koreas, and between „the government and armed groups in Colombia”.

The United Nations designated 2001 as the International Year of Dialogue between Civilizations. The Pope specifically acknowledged the event by stating that dialogue illustrates how „distrust, conflict and the vestiges of past crises can always be overcome through good will”. By 2002, the Pope extolled that „direct dialogue” has begun between Cypriot leaders and also between the disputants in Sri Lanca. And he expressed satisfaction that delegations from the two Chinas now participate in the World Trade Organization.

This content comes from: B.J. O’Connor, Papal Diplomacy: John Paul II and Culture of Peace, South Bend, Indiana 2005.

General information about Papal Diplomacy in post: Diplomacy according to John Paul II”.