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I Mafra Dialogues Brings Together the Holy See, the United Nations, Xanana Gusmão and the Portuguese Government

In an unprecedented initiative in Portugal, IPDAL and Mafra City Council brought together some of the most influential personalities and organizations in the world to debate the importance of peace diplomacy and conflict prevention.

The Vatican Secretary of State was the guest of honor at the 1st «Mafra Dialogues – Strategic Dialogues for Peace Diplomacy», an initiative that had the support of the Swiss Embassy, in Portugal. In his video message, Cardinal Pietro Parolin defended a “humanity-centered approach that recognizes the precious and inviolable dignity of all life and therefore the need to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms”, recalling Pope Francis’ commitments “ in the search for a renewal of dialogue, especially at the intercultural, interreligious and interfaith levels”.

The United Nations was represented by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Peace Operations Miroslav Jenca, who explained how the UN is implementing conflict prevention and promoting the participation of women and young people in peace processes.

Having counted on some of the most prestigious think tanks and international organizations dedicated to conflict mediation and state resilience – such as Amnesty International, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance , the Toledo International Center for Peace or the Institute for Economics and Peace – the first edition of «Mafra Dialogues» also privileged Portuguese thought, with names such as Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the OECD for Cooperation and Development, Mónica Ferro, Director of the Geneva Office of the United Nations Population Fund, and Felipe Pathé Duarte, professor and researcher at Nova School of Law.

On the first day, the peace process in Mozambique was also analyzed, as well as the instability in Cabo Delgado, with the panel contributing from Mirko Manzoni, personal envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General in the country, and Angelo Romano, peace mediator from the Community of Sant’Egidio, and from Felipe Pathé Duarte, thus seeking to examine what the university professor and researcher characterized as a “scenario that presents more doubts than certainties”.

Recent developments in Colombia were addressed in another panel, through the participation of the special advisor to the President of the Republic of Colombia for stabilization and consolidation, Emilio Archila, the senior analyst at the Real Instituto Elcano, Carlos Malamud, and the Director of the Toledo International Center for Peace, Emilio Cassinello. Finally, the closing of the first day was led by Francis M. Kai-Kai, Minister of Planning and Economic Development of Sierra Leone and president pro-tempore of g7+.

The second day also highlighted the discussion on the role of the security sector in the resilience of States, with contributions from Florentina Ukonga, Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Anne Bennett, from the Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance and Nils Muižnieks, Europe director at Amnesty International.

The closing of the initiative consisted of a dialogue with the Minister of National Defense, João Gomes Cravinho, with the former President of Timor-Leste Xanana Gusmão and the Director-General of Foreign Policy of Portugal, Madalena Fischer.

On this occasion, IPDAL distributed a report on Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding and will soon publish a policy paper with the main conclusions and proposals presented by the speakers.

The initiative took place on the 18th and 19th of May, at the Mafra National Palace and in an online format.