Holy See on Culture of Peace
"Promote the Formation of Persons Dedicated to Dialogue"

NEW YORK, NOV. 10, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered today on the culture of peace before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. President,

At the outset, my delegation would like to congratulate the Secretary General for his report highlighting the activities carried out by key United Nations entities involved in the field of interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

The question of religion and the contribution of religions to peace and development have resurfaced in the United Nations in recent years because they have become urgent and inevitable in the opinion of the world. A century and a half ago, at the beginning of the industrial revolution, religion was described as the "opium of the people", today, in the context of globalization, it is increasingly regarded as the "vitamin of the poor".

The unique contribution of religions and the dialogue and cooperation among them lies in their raison d’tre which is to serve the spiritual and transcendental dimension of human nature. They tend as well to raise the human spirit, protect life, empower the weak, translate ideals into action, purify institutions, contribute to resolving economic and non-economic inequalities, inspire their leaders to go beyond the normal call of duty, permit people to attain a fuller realization of their natural potential, and traverse situations of conflict through reconciliation, peace-building processes and the healing of memories scarred by injustice.

It is well known that throughout history individuals and leaders have manipulated religions. Likewise, ideological and nationalistic movements have taken religious differences as an opportunity to garner support for their own causes. Recently, the manipulation and misuse of religion for political purposes have given rise to debates and deliberations at the United Nations on the theme, placing it in the context of human rights.

Indeed, the debate within the UN on the role of religions has unfolded for quite some time now and the need for a coherent vision of and appropriate approach to this phenomenon is deeply felt. My delegation would like to offer some considerations on the matter with a view to contributing to a suitable and effective interaction of religion and religions with the United Nations’ goals and activities.

Interreligious or interfaith dialogue aiming at investigating the theological and spiritual foundations of different religions in view of mutual understanding and cooperation is becoming more and more an imperative, a conviction and an effective endeavor among many religions.

I am pleased to call to mind here the leadership taken by the Catholic Church, some forty years ago, with the promulgation of the conciliar document Nostra Aetate, in reaching out to other religious traditions. Today, many Christian denominations and other religions are engaged in dialogue with programs of their own and in this way have continued to make progress in greater understanding among each other. In this regard, the Holy See has implemented a number of initiatives to promote dialogue among Christian denominations, with Jewish believers, Buddhists and Hindus. A Council on Interreligious Dialogue was set up more than forty years ago and more recently a first-of-its-kind initiative with the representatives of the 138 Muslim signatories of the document, A Common Word Between Us and You. This engagement seeks to foster greater respect, understanding and cooperation among believers of various denominations, encourage the study of religions and promote the formation of persons dedicated to dialogue.

This type of theological and spiritual dialogue requires that it be conducted by and among believers and adopt a proper methodology. At the same time, it offers the indispensable premise and basis for that much broader culture of dialogue and cooperation that different academic, political, economic and international institutions have launched in past decades.

Recent social and political events have renewed the engagement of the United Nations to integrate its reflection and action on affirming a culture of respect with a specific concern for interreligious understanding. The protagonists of this dialogue are member States in their interaction with civil society. Their approach and methodology stem from the very mission and purpose of the United Nations.

However, having in mind the spirit and the word of the UN Charter as well as core juridical instruments, it is safe to say that the United Nations’ specific and primary responsibility vis--vis religion is to debate, elucidate and help States to fully ensure, at all levels, the implementation of the right to religious freedom as affirmed in the relevant UN documents which include full respect for and promotion not only of the fundamental freedom of conscience but also of the expression and practice of everybody’s religion, without restriction.

Indeed, the United Nations' ultimate goal and achievement in pursuing interreligious understanding and cooperation is to be able to engage States as well as all segments of human society to recognize, respect and promote the dignity and rights of every person and each community in the world.

Thank you Mr. President.


Holy See on Renewable Energy
"The Energy Consumption Pattern of Today Impacts Future Generations"

NEW YORK, NOV. 4, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Tuesday on renewable energy before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. Chairman,

At the outset my Delegation joins others in congratulating you on your election and leadership of this Committee and thanks the bureau for its valued collaboration.

The question of energy, both renewable and non-renewable, has become a key issue facing the international community and calls for identifying a durable and comprehensive energy strategy. This energy strategy should be able to meet such needs in the short and long term, ensuring energy security, protecting health and environment and establishing concrete commitments to address the problems of climate change. It should also be capable of launching a peaceful transition towards a more efficient global economy which seeks to lower energy consumption and use of fossil fuels.

The promotion of new and renewable sources of energy, besides being central to this strategy, is of great importance to guarantee a long-term comprehensive development, capable of extending to different areas of the planet.

In this regard, my delegation would like to highlight three issues.
First, progress in the field of renewable energy is extremely important for poverty eradication. The many benefits of the application and dissemination of new and renewable sources of energy can be used for development of related objectives. Similarly, energy cooperation should ultimately be oriented towards poverty alleviation and be adjusted to economic and fiscal instruments, as well as to regional and international cooperation, information sharing, transfer of technology and best practices in this field.

When addressing the various renewable energy technologies, solar, hydro, and bio, we note that the developing countries as a group have more than 40% of installed renewable power capacity, more than 70% of existing solar hot water capacity and 45% of bio-fuel production power capacity. But often low-carbon technologies, like solar technologies, including photovoltaic, concentrating solar power and solar thermal, incur very high initial expenses. Access by poorer people to this innovation is essential for allowing developing countries to meet their growing demand for energy and fostering sustainable development.

Availability of and access to energy has a profound positive impact on health, education, nutrition and income opportunities. Improving access to energy requires better infrastructure, ensured by appropriate legal and institutional "frameworks". This inevitably needs the involvement of local institutions, which can more easily identify the type of energy, including the forms of financing and marketing most appropriate for the complex realities of the zone. Where this access is denied to the poor or delayed due to various reasons, more efficient and sustainable use of traditional energy resources should be promoted, existing energy efficiency improved and conservation by relying on a mix of available technologies encouraged.

Second, Mr. Chairman, every discussion on identifying reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services and resources should take into account the human and environmental long-term costs. Environmental exploitation, without regard to environmental or long-term concerns, may provide a short-term economic growth but such growth comes at a great price. The costs today are being born primarily by developing countries, the poor and those who do not have the ability to protect themselves from challenges of climate change.

The field of renewable energy presents a challenge and an opportunity for Governments and all other relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society and international organizations, to work together to address this pressing challenge. The common initiatives of renewable energy should also be based on “intergenerational justice” since the energy consumption pattern of today impacts future generations. We should not burden future generations with our overstated energy consumption. Therefore a change of lifestyle is imperative in this regard. In this way, renewable energy programmes will ensure an “intergenerational solidarity” beyond national and economic boundaries.

Finally, for successful renewable energy programmes, proper energy consciousness education and ongoing energy learning is vital. In this regard, civil society and faith-based organizations can contribute a great deal to raising awareness about and advocating for the use of renewable energy sources at the grass-roots level.

In developing strategies and policies for new and renewable energy, there is no “one size fits all” formula. Instead it will require multidimensional cooperation, which places responsible human stewardship of the earth at the center of international, national and individual efforts to address the causes and consequences of climate change. While this challenge presents a number of scientific and economic challenges, through firmness of purpose and compassion for our neighbor, we will be able to foster a planet where desire to care for the earth is not a consequence of fear but a precursor to long-term economic and personal development.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See on UN Aid to Palestinian Refugees
"Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Remains Key"

NEW YORK, NOV. 4, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Tuesday on U.N. aid to Palestine refugees in the Middle East before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. Chairman,

My Delegation would like to begin by expressing its appreciation to the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for the annual report on the works of the agency during the past year. Commissioner-General Karen Abu Zayd’s report is noteworthy for two reasons: first, this is the 60th anniversary of the founding of UNRWA, and second, the past year has been exceptionally difficult for UNRWA.

My Delegation takes this occasion to express gratitude and appreciation for the six decades of service and assistance provided by UNRWA to the Palestine refugees. We also offer sincere condolences for those members of the UNWRA staff killed or injured while carrying out their duties over the last 60 years.

UNRWA was created as a temporary UN body, given the task of serving Palestine refugees until such time as their situation was justly resolved. Now, six decades later, UNRWA’s very existence is a reminder that the question of Palestine refugees remains unresolved.

Mr. Chairman,

This tragic reality brings my Delegation to the second point: namely, that this report speaks of the tragedies and difficulties currently endured by the refugees just as they have been for the past six decades. The Holy See understands precisely how the current situation has impacted the lives of millions with great adversity. Working with its worldwide donors and collaborators, the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, also founded as a temporary agency in 1949, currently provides education, health services, relief, social services and employment programs to the Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and Gaza along with UNRWA.

Mr. Chairman,

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains key to resolving so many of the situations that bring chaos to the region of the Middle East and which have serious worldwide implications. Regrettably, there is a failure on the part of both concerned parties to engage in significant and substantive dialogue and dispute resolution in order to bring stability and peace to the Holy Land. More than ever before, the international community is needed to continue its efforts to facilitate with haste a rapprochement of the parties. Obviously, those brokering the negotiations will have to maintain a balanced approach, avoiding the imposition of preconditions on either side.

In the hope that the many problems of the region will finally be resolved by negotiation and dialogue, my Delegation further underlines that a lasting solution must include the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem. In light, too, of the numerous incidents of violence and challenges to free movement posed by the Security Wall, the Holy See renews its support for “internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities” (A/RES/ES-10/2).

Finally, we repeat our call to the international community to facilitate significant negotiations between the conflicting parties. Only with a just and lasting peace – not imposed but secured through negotiation and reasonable compromise – will the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples of the Holy Land be fulfilled.

Thank you, Mr Chairman


Holy See on Human Rights

"No Religion on the Planet ... Is Free From Discrimination"
NEW YORK, OCT. 27, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Monday before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly on the promotion and protection of human rights.

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Mr Chairman,

As we take up the promotion and protection of human rights, we know that the dignity of the human person is what motivates our desire to commit ourselves to work for the gradual realization of all human rights.

For some time now the United Nations has examined the notion of freedom of conscience with regard to religion and freedom of its expression. This has manifested itself especially in the context of the promotion and protection of universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, cultural diversity, and the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance in the world.

The right to religious freedom, despite being repeatedly proclaimed by the international community and specified in international instruments as well as in the Constitution of most States, continues to be widely violated today. There is unfortunately no religion on the planet which is free from discrimination. Acts of intolerance, and violations of religious freedom, continue to be perpetrated in many forms. In fact, more and more cases are brought to the attention of the courts or international human rights bodies.

With the increase of religious intolerance in the world, it is well documented that Christians are the religious group most discriminated against as there may well be more than 200 million of them, of different confessions, who are in situations of difficulty because of legal and cultural structures that lead to their discrimination.

Over the past months some Asian and Middle Eastern countries have seen Christian communities attacked, leaving many injured and others killed. Their churches and homes were also burned down. Such actions were committed by extremists in response to accusations against individuals, perceived –according to anti-blasphemy laws– as being in some way disrespectful of the beliefs of others. In this context, my delegation welcomes and supports the promise of the government of Pakistan to review and amend such laws.

Blasphemy laws have too easily become opportunities for extremists to persecute those who freely choose to follow the belief system of a different faith tradition. Such laws have been used to foster injustice, sectarian violence and violence between religions. Governments must address the root causes of religious intolerance and repeal such laws that serve as instruments of abuse.

Legislation which restricts freedom of expression cannot change attitudes. Instead, what is needed is the will to change. This can most effectively be achieved by raising the consciousness of individuals, bringing them to a greater understanding of the need to respect all persons regardless of their faith or cultural background. States should refrain from adopting restrictions on freedom of expression which have often led to abuse by the authorities and to the silencing of dissenting voices, particularly those of individuals belonging to ethnic and religious minorities. Authentic freedom of expression can contribute to a greater respect for all people as it can provide the opportunity to speak out against violations such as religious intolerance and racism and promote the equal dignity of all persons.

The advocacy of hatred and violence towards specific religions which persists in various places suggests a state of mind characterized by intolerance. For this reason it is imperative that the people of the various faith traditions work together in order to grow in mutual understanding. Here there is need for an authentic change of minds and hearts. This can be done best through education, beginning with children and young people, on the importance of tolerance and respect for cultural and religious diversity.

Cooperation among religions is a prerequisite for the transformation of society and must lead to a change of minds and hearts so that a culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among peoples can truly be built.

This Organization has for many years provided the international community with benchmarks for what countries need to do in order to make concrete advancements in respecting human rights. A key to this lies in adhering to the foundational instruments of the United Nations and in faithfully applying the principles enshrined therein, so that all people regardless of their beliefs will be accorded full respect in keeping with their dignity as members of the human community.

Thank you Mr Chairman.


Holy See to UN on Food Security
"The Debate on Malnutrition ... Requires Real Action"

NEW YORK, OCT. 26, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Friday on agricultural development and food security before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. Chairman,

My delegation would like to thank the Secretary-General for the extensive report prepared in view of this debate, which is particularly pertinent at a time when agricultural development and food security draw renewed attention from international institutions and Governments.

This year for the first time over 1 billion of the world’s population are undernourished. Although the world produces enough food for the global community, food demand continues to rise faster than the agricultural production.

At the same time, inequities and mismanagement of commodities and financial systems hamper the ability for all to live in a world free of hunger. As consumption patterns change in developing countries, agricultural land is used for non-agricultural purposes or remains removed from production, and agricultural products are increasingly destined to non-nutritional purposes. Clearly, the ability to feed the growing world population requires a renewed commitment to addressing agricultural policies.

Earth, that is -- soil, is a fundamental basis of our richness, the element in which we can entrust the survival of humanity. This involves a number of considerations, decisions and firm commitments to be made in the context of climate change, in the sense in which the UN is working for a successful outcome of the upcoming Copenhagen Conference.

The World Bank and FAO have recently published a report under the telling title: "Awaking Africa's Sleeping Giant." The “giant” is the 400 million hectares of African savanna which runs through 25 countries, from Senegal to South Africa, and is endowed with an immense agricultural potential. At the moment only 10% of the savanna is being utilized, but a timely and correct policy based on medium to small-scale farming could deliver the amazing results experienced in other regions of the world where the same policy was adopted some twenty years ago.

To aid these efforts, land reform and revision of national systems of ownership must not be delayed. They should also be accompanied by agricultural policies and other measures such as training, information, credit, infrastructure and social services which enable farmers to be protagonists of agricultural transformation.

Statistics in the recent publication, "State of Food Insecurity in the World" (SOFI 2009), confirm that hunger has been on the rise for the past decade and it was not created but rather accentuated by the current financial crisis. Increases in hunger in all of the world’s major regions in times both of prosperity and economic crisis point to a deeper cause, namely, to a weak world governance of food security.

Indeed, one must admit that the real power of agriculture today seems to reside not anymore in the hands of farmers, but principally in the stages preceding and following production. Agricultural leadership is in the hands of those who control credit and the distribution of new technology, of those concerned with transport, distribution and sale of products.

The growing role of contract farming in agri-food systems offers a certain amount of security and stability to producers who are assured of selling their products. However, in order to respect the dignity of farmers, such contract farming must not deprive them of their creativity and initiative by transforming them into simply salaried workers.

In this regard, as the current financial crisis demonstrates, efforts must be undertaken to give greater importance to the role of labor and production over capital, financial transactions and speculation. Speculation continues to generate for farmers a destabilizing amount of uncertainty and unpredictability, inasmuch as it determines the fall in prices of one or another agricultural commodity, thus blocking production of these specific commodities and causing a long and sometimes tragic loss of employment for large numbers of farmers.

In addition, trade and market-distorting subsidies must be reassessed in light of the need to ensure that in developing countries farmers are able to participate in the national and global market and they are paid a wage commensurate with their labor.

We are facing a process of redefining the global cycle of production and marketing of agricultural products which commits us to a serious reflection on what its consequences are and what the new balanced solutions might be. It is at these levels that there is need to work on creating a new economy more attentive not only to profit, but above all, to human needs and relations.

Science and technology, while certainly necessary elements for the improvement of agriculture, are not sufficient to tackle the existing problems. These can only be addressed in the framework of solidarity and actions as well as increased attention to the dignity of farmers, who more than the beneficiaries of agricultural development and food security are its real protagonists.

Mr. Chairman, as is evident, the debate on malnutrition and starvation needs no longer abstract estimates and multiplication of words, but requires real action, from all concerned.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See to UN on Fighting Poverty
"Promote a True Human Empowerment of the Poor"

NEW YORK, OCT. 23, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Thursday before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly. The topic addressed was the eradication of poverty.

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Mr. Chairman,

The topic of poverty eradication will continue to be present in the deliberations of the General Assembly as long as human limitations and changing historical circumstances give way to shortcomings, social imbalances and injustices. However, by addressing today once again this item, we renew our commitment to eradicating the main structural causes of poverty.
These days some governments, intergovernmental agencies, academics and other experts are predicting the end of the economic downturn caused by the financial crisis of 2008 and the beginning of recovery in major world economies. Nevertheless, even the most optimistic outlook admits that recovery will be very slow, and there is no guarantee that there will not be any further shocks and setbacks, including those triggered by inappropriate use of measures adopted to curb the effects of the crisis.

Between the potential for recovery and continued setbacks lie some discouraging statistics on the deterioration of public health, social welfare systems and education as well as a widespread sense of social disintegration. All this is difficult to measure, but is clearly discernible in daily life. In the case of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), where a remarkable growth was experienced over the last decade, the new world situation does not seem to offer much hope.
The real crisis, therefore, is not the disruption of the international economic structures based largely on weak or even fictitious bases, but the sharp worsening of poverty in a world already haunted by intolerable misery.

In addition, those who bear the brunt of the crisis are only marginally mentioned in public discourse despite the fact that their numbers have skyrocketed and opportunities to reintegrate in the eventual economic growth are rather scarce or even non-existent. Several monitoring and advisory agencies have announced that the unemployment rate in industrialized countries has increased over the past 12 months to levels comparable to those in the 1930s and malnutrition rates have increased by 11%, primarily in developing countries. Even if an economic recovery is imminent, for those who remain jobless the crisis is not over and its social and human costs persist.

In this context, it does not seem enough simply to re-launch the global economy and establish some new rules and controls to ensure a less uncertain and traumatic financial sector. It is necessary today more than ever to work towards a qualitative change in the management of international affairs.

Resolution 63/230 notes with concern the decline of official development assistance in the years preceding the outbreak of the crisis, especially in 2006 and 2007. The year 2008 and the first half of 2009 have even seen an acceleration of this trend, apparently justified by a desire to use all available funds to prevent a further financial collapse. Many voices have been raised, however, against such an unfounded argument. In point of fact, the amount necessary to fulfill official development assistance commitments is drastically smaller than that allocated to restore the global financial sector. To delay the necessary developmental assistance reaffirms the moral roots of the crisis – the lack of solidarity and responsibility for long-term effects of economic measures. As was mentioned by my delegation on several occasions, only a constant and sustained investment in all women and men will ensure the minimum economic and political stability needed for the universal common good.

It is therefore necessary to seek the implementation of international political commitments without delay and without excuses. The already launched sale of a portion of the gold reserves of international financial institutions to help the poorest and most indebted countries, as well as the commitment to support poor countries made during the 2005 G8 meeting in Gleneagles and March 2009 G20 summit in London, should not remain mere declarations to be considered after the resolution of the crisis, but need to be implemented and enhanced as urgent steps towards a complete and lasting solution.

The various social commitments taken at the Copenhagen Conference on Social Development (1995) and the General Conference of the International Labor Organization, especially those related to decent work (1999-2000) are essential for a far-reaching action and solution in favor of a balanced and sustained world economic recovery. In addition, international trade agreements and financial statements must always and in every situation ensure sufficient political and economic space to the member states to fulfill their own responsibilities, especially those of human development of the poor, promotion of social integration and the establishment and strengthening of social security networks.

My delegation looks with attention and interest at the proposed topic "Legal Empowerment of the Poor". In fact, the implementation of a national and international economic system that actually serves the interests of the poor requires that they be able to defend and promote their own rights in the context of the rule of law at the national and international levels. But this is not enough; we must promote a true human empowerment of the poor and provide, even in conditions of economic crisis, greater access to education. This needs to go beyond basic education or professional training, both important causes of development, and concern the total formation of the person.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See on Development in Africa
"Africa Can Offer Signs of Fulfillment of Many of Its Hopes"

NEW YORK, OCT. 21, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered today development in Africa before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. President,

In congratulating the Secretary General for his Report on the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), my delegation would like to offer some remarks on the overall situation in Africa.

First of all, there are certain prejudices that must be eliminated once and for all. Often when one speaks about Africa, both journalistically and at the academic or political level, one speaks of extreme poverty, coups d’tat, corruption and regional conflicts. Also, when speaking positively of Africa, it is always about the future of Africa, as if it had nothing to offer at the present time.

The reality is that Africa, even in its most difficult years, has been able to provide the international community examples and values worthy of admiration and, today, Africa can also offer signs of fulfillment of many of its hopes. Just think about the various cases in which Africa has proven its great capacity to manage the processes of transition to independence or reconstruction after situations of conflict. Consider too, the presence of so many valiant officials in the United Nations and UN Agencies through which Africa shows the world the capability and talents of her people to manage the multilateral sector. Think also of the increasing contribution of the sons and daughters of Africa to the scientific, academic and intellectual life of the developed countries.

Some African countries have succeeded in realizing the dream of a diversified agriculture, which obtains results that were up to this point considered impossible; they have proven that family-farming of small scale or insignificant size can actually be multi-functional, capable of ensuring food security across the country and even generating export balance and managing the conservation of land and natural resources. What is more, many African countries have made impressive strides in the field of elementary education and improving the situation of women.

It remains true, nevertheless, that most of the people living in extreme poverty are in Africa and that the eradication of poverty and hunger, halving the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day by 2015, is beyond the reach of most African countries.
Africa needs, therefore, a factual solidarity not only to cope with the negative impacts of these crises, but to help eradicate the unacceptable scourge of poverty and make available to other countries Africa's true potential.

Africa requires a strong reinforcement of its basic economic support, consisting of the official development assistance and grants for eradicating extreme poverty and for the creation and maintenance of basic social structures. Long-term financing programs are needed to overcome the external debt of the highly indebted poor countries (HIPC), consolidate the economic and constitutional systems and create a social safety network. Likewise, international trading conditions have to conform to its proper needs and economic challenges.

In the current crisis, developed countries should not reduce their development aid to Africa, on the contrary, they should move in a farsighted vision of the economy and the world to increase their investment for those in poor countries.

In the same vein, Africa needs support for its agricultural programs. In addressing food insecurity, due consideration must be given to the structural systems, such as subsidies in developed countries and commodity dumping which drives down the ability of African farmers to make a living wage. In addition, the long decline in investment in the agricultural sector in Africa must be reversed and a renewed commitment to assisting family farmers to provide sustainable food production must be undertaken. Failure to assist Africans to feed themselves and their neighbors will only result in continued senseless loss of life from inadequate food security and increased conflict over natural resources.

Africa needs also support in diversifying its economies. Recently, the world observed both in a positive and negative manner the institutionalization of the G20 as a strong point of reference to manage the world economy. Positive because the large industrialized countries have felt the need to call to the negotiating table major emerging markets of the South. The involvement of emerging or developing countries now makes it possible to better manage the crisis. Negative for the risk of exclusion of small countries involved in these important discussions. However, one notes that emerging economies that will have an influence on politics and the world economy are those that have succeeded, to a greater or lesser extent, to diversify their industrial and agricultural facilities.

Finally, Mr. President, Africa needs integration support. The NEPAD and all regional as well as sub-regional initiatives of trade, economic and cultural cooperation, conflict management, peace-keeping and reconstruction should be promoted and strengthened. The AU has proven to be a strong focal-point for connecting Africa with the UN and the international financial and trade organizations. Similarly, the AU converges and coordinates the multiple sub-regional multilateral initiatives in Africa. The integrated economy of the present day does not make the role of States redundant but instead commits governments to greater collaboration with one another. The articulation of political authority at the local, national and international levels is one of the best ways of giving direction to the process of economic globalization.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See on Indigenous Issues
"Interaction Between Cultures Has a Positive Value"

NEW YORK, OCT. 19, 2009 Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered today on indigenous issues before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr Chairman,

For the Holy See, speaking on this agenda item is more than an intellectual exercise, for it comes from its long-standing commitment to addressing the social, personal and spiritual needs of the world's more than 370 million indigenous people. Since the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) by the General Assembly in September 2007, the rights of indigenous peoples have drawn special international attention and my delegation believes that the celebration of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples will help foster greater interest in and respect for these communities.

To revitalize the activities of the Decade, my delegation believes that pertinent initiatives should be guided by principles of respect for the identity and culture of indigenous populations. Understanding and respecting their cultural traditions, religious consciousness and their long-standing ability to decide and control their development programs foster better interaction and cooperation between peoples and governments.

It has been noted by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples that human rights violations continue and that the DRIP is not being fully implemented. My delegation would like to recall the conviction so often resounding in this hall that the recognition of the fundamental dignity of every person and promotion of human rights remain the most effective strategy for their comprehensive development. We have to work harder to make indigenous peoples aware of their own human dignity and empower their communities to shape their life according to their own traditions.

In times of change and economic crises, the challenges facing indigenous peoples should not be forgotten. In the process of downsizing social security systems, due consideration should be given to them with models of authentic development which avoid destruction of land, water and other forms of environmental exploitation in the name of short-term economic advantage. In this regard, my delegation urges corporations to conduct their enterprise in a way which does not harm the rights of indigenous peoples and promotes responsible use of the environment.

In the midst of social and economic change, traditional networks of solidarity have more to do; promotion of indigenous initiatives to defend their rights must therefore be honored. The concept of mobility of labor has given rise to increased migration, which leads to situations of human decline, and creates new forms of psychological instability and enormous cultural degradation. Interaction between cultures has a positive value, but it should be effected through intercultural dialogue not by domination or subjugation.

In the Second Decade, for the sake of social welfare, the problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed within a long-term perspective, eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries.

Agricultural reform requires of indigenous populations greater investment in rural infrastructures, irrigation systems, transportation and organization of markets as well as greater access to agricultural technology. The 2009 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People focused on HIV/AIDS related issues. In the Second Decade, the vulnerability of indigenous peoples, especially children and women, to this epidemic must draw special attention and appropriate health education is essential to preventing its transmission. All these issues are to be accomplished with the involvement of local communities and respecting moral values based on human nature.

It is also necessary to cultivate a public conscience that recognizes food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination. The right to food, like the right to water, has an important place within the pursuit of other rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life.

Indigenous communities are deeply rooted in cultures, traditions and practices of respect for Earth, creation and human life. Openness to life has long been at the centre of the indigenous people’s spirituality and if personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.


Holy See on the Rights of Children
"For Too Many Children the Right to Life Is Denied"

NEW YORK, OCT. 16, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Thursday on the promotion and protection of the rights of children before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr Chairman,

As we consider the promotion and protection of the rights of children, we also commemorate the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, an important instrument aimed at protecting the rights and interests of children.

In the course of the past twenty years the Convention has been ratified or acceded to by almost two hundred States; the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict has been ratified by almost 130 countries; and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has been ratified by over 130 countries. International consensus has grown as governments have become more aware of the need to protect all children. In this regard, my delegation encourages all States that have not yet done so to join in furthering the legal protection of children by ratifying or acceding to the Convention and the Protocols and calls for a correct application of these legal instruments which entails respect for the inherent right to life of all children.

A recent UNICEF report comes with good news: the global under-five mortality has decreased steadily over the past two decades. However, statistics also tell us that in the last decade more than two million children have been killed in the course of armed conflict, six million have been left disabled, tens of thousands mutilated by antipersonnel mines, and over 300,000 recruited as child soldiers.

In our discussions on ending violence against children we cannot but call to mind that for too many children the right to life is denied; that prenatal selection eliminates babies suspected to have disabilities and female children simply because of their sex; that oftentimes children become the first victims of famines and wars; that they are maimed by unexploded munitions; that they lack sufficient food and housing; that they are deprived of schooling; that they become sick with AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis without access to medicines; that they are sold to traffickers, sexually exploited, recruited into irregular armies, uprooted by forced displacements, or compelled into debilitating work.

Eliminating violence against children demands that the state and society support and enable the family to carry out its proper responsibility. Governments must assume their rightful role to protect and promote family life because the family has obvious vital and organic links with society. Civil society also has an important role to play in supporting the family and counteracting all forms of violence against children. For its part, the Catholic Church's over 300,000 social, caring and educational institutions work daily to ensure both education for children and provide the reintegration of abused and neglected children into their families if possible, and into society.

At times, in deliberations on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, there can unfortunately be a tendency to speak in terms of the relationship between the child and the state while inadvertently minimizing the role of parents. In this regard my delegation cannot emphasize enough the importance of the family in the life of each and every child and that all legislation regarding children must take into account the indispensable role of parents, for children are born of a mother and father, and into the fundamental community which is the family. Not surprisingly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has rightly affirmed that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State” (Article 16,3), and that, relatedly, “motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance” and “all children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection” (Article 25,2). These affirmations are not concepts imposed from the outside but instead are complementary principles derived from the nature of the human person.

This year the General Assembly continues its consideration of the right of children to express their views freely in all matters affecting them and so rightly focuses on the importance of truly hearing them. All children need to be respected fully in their inherent dignity for they are fully human beings. The Convention on the Rights of the Child does not explicitly include an article on a specific right to participate. Nonetheless, the Convention does contain articles that take into account the participation of children, for example, in expressing their views and having these views heard (Article 12). In considering the concrete application of child participation it must always be remembered, as is affirmed in the Convention, that States Parties are called to “respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents … to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the Convention” (Article 5).

On this occasion the Holy See once again reaffirms its constant concern for the well-being and protection of all children and their families and continues to call all States to do the same with renewed urgency since all children deserve to grow up in a stable and healthy environment in keeping with their dignity.

Thank you Mr Chairman.


Holy See on Rule of Law
"Underlying Any Law Is a Fundamental Value or Truth"

NEW YORK, OCT. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered today on the rule of law before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. Chairman,

The rule of law serves as the foundation for a more just society. With too many people somewhat excluded from the protections and benefits of the rule of law and with a global financial crisis affecting all regions, to promote the rule of law at the international level becomes an increasingly vital tool for achieving the goals originally established by the UN Charter.

We must remember that law alone is not the aim, as countries too often use laws as a source of oppression and violence so as to "rule by law." Rather, what is needed is to take into account that underlying any law is a fundamental value or truth which must be upheld in order for it to have any real meaning and purpose. This link between the rule of law and justice is embedded in the purpose of this Organization which is to maintain international peace and security in "conformity with the principles of justice and international law." Thus, to speak only of the rule of law without including the need for justice would be inadequate and risk replacing the rule of law with a rule by law.

While the primary responsibility for promoting and creating a just rule of law lies with the national and local authorities, in a globalized society the need for just rules and laws to govern groups beyond national boundaries is of utmost importance. International law recognizes this fundamental fact and seeks to ensure the mechanisms for greater solidarity, thus promoting the rights and responsibilities of individuals and societies beyond national boundaries. Hence, bodies dealing with international law, as well as national authorities, must remain vigilant in ensuring that their law continues to respect the abilities of individual states and local communities to govern their affairs in a just manner, only intervening when an issue has global consequences or the State and local community fails to uphold the responsibility to protect.

International law continues to be of particular importance in the areas of peace and security, economic development and environmental degradation. Widespread corruption, international and national conflicts, terrorism, sexual violence as a means of war and other human rights abuses, too often are perpetuated by or are due to the lack of adherence to a just rule of law at various levels. In this regard, treaties and international legal norms have been instrumental in promoting better respect for the rule of law and creating greater trust between States. Moreover, efforts to promote mediation of disputes provide valuable practical and technical support to nations. To these ends, members of this Committee and the General Assembly, as well as ECOSOC’s various subsidiary bodies must all the more work together.

In the area of economics, the rule of law at the international level has become ever more necessary. The interconnected nature of global business and trade no longer allows for individual nations to control and regulate their own economy because, as the recent financial crisis demonstrates, failure to properly regulate a single market or commodity can lead to devastating effects across the globe. In this respect, my delegation supports the Secretary-General’s efforts to firmly ground the rule of law in the work of the development agenda of the United Nations and highlight the links between poverty, legal exclusion and injustice. In addition, greater efforts must be made to reform the United Nations and the various international financial systems in order to play a proper role in responsible financial regulation. We also support endeavors by States and international organizations to work together to create a just rule of law system for fair trade which respects the inherent dignity of workers. In a global market, so-called outsourcing can lead to a disconnect between a company’s responsibility to its workers, suppliers, consumers and the environment. For this reason, national and international rule of law must not focus solely upon determining the role of markets but also take into account the rights of workers and the community.

To be effective, a just rule of law requires judicial administration, responsible running of institutions and social and political support. Focusing solely upon the technical and administrative aspects of the implementation of the rule of law has proven to be and will continue to be ineffective for we must address the underlying cultural support which is necessary to respect those for whom the law exists. In this regard, the Holy See and its various organizations remain committed to supporting the rule of law at the national and international levels. Its educational institutions in many countries around the world provide individuals quality education in the fundamental nature of law and its proper application, which can only lead to the eradication of corruption. In addition, through many of its organizations around the world numerous committed men and women are present in jails and prisons to provide physical, psychological and spiritual support to the incarcerated and help provide them with the skills necessary to become productive law abiding citizens.

The reform of the United Nations and its various bodies is of utmost importance to promote the rule of law at the international level. International treaty bodies which expand the scope and meaning of treaties beyond their originally agreed content lose proper respect for the role of subsidiarity, thus undermining the intent of the treaties themselves and risk losing credibility. Furthermore, continuing efforts to reform the Security Council and the United Nations system helps to enhance the UN’s credibility around the world.

Mr. Chairman, my delegation looks forward to working with the membership during this session and in the various rule of law bodies within the United Nations to ensure that the rule of law truly becomes a just rule of law.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


Holy See on Population and Development
"Human Persons Are the World's Greatest Resource"

NEW YORK, OCT. 14, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Monday on population and development before the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. President,

As we call to mind the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), we recognize the many challenges facing the international community to achieve the goal of greater sustained economic and social development.

When States came together in Cairo in 1994, many of them were under the impression that a population explosion was going to occur and hamper the ability to achieve adequate global economic development. Now fifteen years later, we see that this perception was unfounded.

In many developed countries, population demographics have declined to the point where some national legislators are now encouraging an increase in birth rates to assure continued economic growth. Similarly, in many parts of the developing world, development has been occurring at previously unachieved rates and the greatest threat to development results not from a population explosion but from irresponsible world and local economic management.

For nearly a century, attempts have been made to link global population with the food, energy, natural resources and environmental crises. Yet, on the contrary, it has been consistently demonstrated by human ingenuity and the ability of people to work together that human persons are the world’s greatest resource.

The ICPD Report reiterated the need for States to promote and strengthen the family as a vital element of producing greater social and economic development. The ever increasing presence of women in the job market has raised new challenges for the family and women both in the work sector and at home. Sexual and economic exploitation, trafficking of women and girls and discriminatory practices in the job market have challenged governments to promote and apply policies to end these injustices and support the family in its proper responsibilities.

Demographic policies must also take into account the needs of migrants as part of an overall responsibility to place the human person at the center of all development policies. Too often migration is seen by governments and individuals as an unwitting consequence of globalization and negative stereotypes of migrants are used to promote policies which have a dehumanizing effect and create unconscionable divisions within families.

As noted in the most recent “Human Development Report”, migration exists in all regions of the world with migrants often providing necessary skills and talents to destination countries while at the same time ensuring valuable support to their countries of origin. While other aspects of the ICPD Program of Action have received greater attention in the past, to truly achieve all the constructive proposals of the ICPD Report, greater efforts must be made to enact human centered policies which recognize the shared benefits of migration. More must be done to make the ICPD’s appeal for achieving development in all countries a means for addressing the reasons behind migration and to enact policies which protect migrants from illegal trafficking.

The ICPD’s call for universal access to quality education continues to serve as the most effective means for promoting sustainable economic, social and political development. It also goes without saying that access to education for women and girls at all levels is at the heart of empowering women within society and promoting equality between men and women.

Too often in addressing the role of the ICPD on maternal health, attempts are made to promote a notion of sexual and reproductive health which is detrimental to unborn human life and the integral needs of women and men within society. Efforts to address maternal mortality, obstetric fistula, child mortality, prenatal and antenatal care, sexually transmitted diseases and other health matters are hampered by sanitary policies which fail to take into account the right to life of the unborn child and promote birth control as a development policy and disguised health service. Suggesting that reproductive health includes a right to abortion explicitly violates the language of the ICPD, defies moral and legal standards within local communities and divides efforts to address the real needs of mothers and children.

Renewing our effort to respond to the integral health and social needs of the community entails taking into account the social, cultural and spiritual needs of all and adhering to the international standard set in the ICPD which calls for national laws to be fully respected.

For its part, the Catholic Church remains committed to providing access to health care for everyone. Through its over 5,000 hospitals, 18,000 health clinics, and 15,000 homes for the elderly and disabled, as well as other health care programs throughout the world, Catholic based institutions are committed to providing the right to quality and effective and morally responsible health care for all.

Ultimately, the ICPD Final Report like many development instruments must seek to assure the development especially of the most vulnerable within society. In this regard, providing for the overall physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children is paramount to ensure that future generations may know abject poverty and child mortality as a historical remnant rather than a daily reality.

Thank you Mr. President.


Holy See on Disarmament and Security
"A New Political Climate [...] Is Observed and Recognized"

NEW YORK, OCT. 8, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered today on disarmament and international security at the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr. Chairman,

At the outset allow me to congratulate you on your election to the Chairmanship of this Session of the First Committee. My Delegation assures you of its full support in your endeavours.

Civil society, the international humanitarian organizations, ordinary individuals and especially those suffering and struggling because of armed conflicts and violence, expect from us tangible and convincing results in the hope of seeing a world free of nuclear weapons, with strict controls over arms trade, which in our day is strongly embedded in illicit markets and causing serious damage to humanity. They want to see a world where education, food, healthcare and clean water are more accessible than illicit arms.

Given that we are two-thirds of the way to the MDGs, many wonder whether the international community will ever achieve these goals, when, for example, military expenditures for 2008 increased by 4% and amounted to some US $1.464 billion. And this in the year of the most acute economic crisis.

The world is watching while we are entering once again into discussions on disarmament issues. Can ordinary people expect more progressive, concrete and courageous changes from their leaders? The answer is in our hands, and will show the determination of the international community to pursue world peace and security based on the promotion of integral human development.

Article 26 of the United Nations Charter declares that excessive spending on arms is a diversion from human and economic resources. The main role of the disarmament machinery is to reduce military expenditures through arms control and disarmament so that the international community can progressively de-weaponise security. What are the alternatives to such excessive military spending that at the same time do not lower security? One is to strengthen multilateralism.

There are positive signs that disarmament is returning to the multilateral agenda, as was seen also in the 24 September Security Council Summit on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. All things considered, a new political climate and momentum on the part of major players in disarmament is observed and recognized: the positive outcome of the last Preparatory Committee for next year’s NPT Review Conference; the adoption of a new Convention on Cluster Munitions; the renewed commitments to achieve a mine-free world; many initiatives undertaken by Governments, international organizations, NGOs and civil society organizations in promoting disarmament in all its aspects; constructive and promising exchanges in the process towards an Arms Trade Treaty. All these are encouraging achievements.

In this perspective, my Delegation reiterates the Holy See’s commitment to advancing the works on an Arms Trade Treaty, as a legally binding instrument on import, export and transfer of arms. Weapons cannot be considered as any other good exchanged on the global, regional or national market, and their excessive stock-piling or indiscriminate trading -- especially to conflict-affected areas -- cannot, by any means, be morally justified. In a globalized world, it is a given that we need to regulate trade, the financial system, and the interconnected economy. The same ought to be the case for arms trade.

Mr. Chairman, with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1887, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are at the centre of the international debate on peace and security. My Delegation commends national policies and bilateral agreements to reducing nuclear arsenals and looks forward to seeing progress in seriously addressing issues related to nuclear strategic arms, tactical ones and the means of delivery of these weapons.

This, however, should not divert our sight and attention from many long-standing yet unresolved issues.

After 13 years, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has not yet entered into force, lacking only nine ratifications while we continue to witness nuclear tests. Persistent obstacles hamper negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. Although the Conference on Disarmament broke the gridlock on its programme of work for the first time in 12 years, it fails to advance because of procedural disagreements. The outcome of the last Disarmament Commission is not much better. Some major players choose to remain outside the international instruments to ban anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, which are significant humanitarian achievements. A few States have yet to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. An international Programme of Action to stem the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons still faces many challenges in achieving its goals. And the international community lacks multilateral legal norms concerning missiles.

Mr. Chairman, many disarmament issues await their definitive solutions. As a new disarmament cycle begins in these days, let us join efforts and good will so that international security is provided with well-functioning multilateral organisms.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See on Priorities of UN
"Create an Organization Guided by Duty, Morality and Solidarity"

NEW YORK, OCT. 7, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Tuesday on the work of the United Nations at the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Mr President,

My delegation wishes to thank the Secretary-General for his report on the work of the organization and its clear call for the membership to restore hope and solidarity so that the 64th Session of the General Assembly becomes a point of renewal for this organization.

This past year the global community became more aware of the fragility of prosperity and growth. The world was hit by an economic crisis which has led to unprecedented numbers of people losing their jobs, security and the ability to provide even the basic necessities for their families. This crisis raised a number of questions about the causes and consequences of the economic downturn and created even more questions as to what the future will hold. Therefore, as we begin this 64th Session of the General Assembly one year after the deepening of the financial crisis, we do so with a new sense of purpose to learn from the mistakes and renew our commitment to the need for cooperation.

One area for a renewed sense of commitment to addressing the world’s problems is working to lift the burdens placed upon so many in this world due to the lack of economic resources. On numerous occasions, my delegation pointed to the need for greater global solidarity in order to tackle the moral implications which currently face the world and to give a renewed priority to the poor. We welcome the Secretary General’s recognition of the moral grounds which underlie the need to give priority to the most vulnerable in this endeavor.

In such an effort, my delegation reiterates the urgency for the United Nations and developed countries to come together to give assistance to the many countries unable to respond to the financial crisis and who continue to face security and development challenges. In some countries which lag behind the rest of the world, the precarious and drifting economic situation was not created but rather was accentuated by the current financial crisis. Development aid will be effective only to the extent local governments and civil society confront the situation with an impetus of responsibility to address the chronic political, administrative and social malfunctioning.

My delegation welcomes the Secretary General’s efforts to call for an increased commitment to peacebuilding and peacekeeping, for these are the vital cornerstones upon which the United Nations was created. All this will be achieved only in the context of a renewed commitment to responsible sovereignty both at the national and international levels.

Mr. President, the upcoming Copenhagen Conference on climate change will test the ability of the international community to work together to attend to a problem which has both global causes and consequences. At the heart of the climate change debate is the moral and ethical need for individuals, companies and States to recognize their responsibility to use the world’s resources in a sustainable manner. With this responsibility comes the duty of all States and international corporations that have somehow disproportionately used and abused global resources to shoulder their fair share in solving the problem.

With the agreement to work towards a legally binding instrument on the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, the Convention on Cluster munitions and the recent consensus by major nuclear powers to reduce nuclear stockpiles, there has been an increasing commitment by some States to address this fundamental issue. However, the ongoing proliferation of nuclear arms and the desire by some States to continue to spend disproportionate amounts of money on weapons suggest that further efforts are needed if we are to make serious progress in controlling and unilaterally disarming these instruments of destruction.

Our efforts to renew the work of the United Nations will remain unfulfilled unless the international organizations and individual States are able to incorporate the voices of civil society into all aspects of the work of the Organization. Civil society partners are critical players in delivering humanitarian relief, promoting the rule of law and bringing to light gross violations of human rights. In this regard, faith-based organizations play a vital role in providing insight into the local needs of the community, delivering care and fostering solidarity both locally and internationally for the needs of people around the world. My delegation welcomes the Secretary-General’s recognition of the critical role of civil society actors and we hope to work with delegations to further include civil society organizations in providing life saving care to those in need.

Mr. President, widespread corruption, health pandemics, persistent maternal mortality in some regions of the world, economic crisis, terrorism, food security, climate change and migration, all illustrate that in an increasingly globalized world, national solutions are only one part of the formula for contributing towards peace and justice. These global problems call for an international response and it is, therefore, imperative that the United Nations and other international organizations look inward and outward in order to make the necessary reforms to respond to the challenges of this interconnected world. In commending the Secretary General’s leadership, my delegation looks forward to working with you and the membership in the next year to help create an Organization guided by duty, morality and solidarity with those in need.

Thank you Mr. President.


Archbishop Mamberti to UN Security Council
"Nuclear Weapons Assault ... the Planet Itself"

NEW YORK, SEPT. 30, 2009 - Here is the text of an address given Sept. 24 by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Vatican relations with states, to the U.N. security council.

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The Holy See supports the initiative undertaken by the Security Council, presided over this month by the United States, to convene a Summit at the level of Heads of State and Government to discuss nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. This is a very timely and crucial event considering that it is being held in conjunction with the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), where still nine ratifications are required for its entry into force. Furthermore, it is conducted in close proximity to the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, aimed at promoting universal adherence to, compliance with and full implementation of the Treaty. The Summit could also be considered as a valid and concrete response to the global appeal to seize new political momentum and openness in nuclear disarmament.

At the outset, it should be recognized that the Security Council's approach to weapons of mass destruction, including efforts to prevent proliferation of such weapons, has largely been at the country or case-specific level. The Council has firmly acted against some States' nuclear programmes and has been strong in its preventive response to threats by non-state actors. No achievements, however, have been reached in formulating plans for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments (Art. 26), in particular nuclear weapons and their proliferation, as a necessary element in maintaining international peace and security and creating an environment favourable to ensuring human advancement (Art. 11) [Charter of the United Nations].

Endorsed by the Summit's high-level participants and following the October 2008 Secretary-General's five-point proposal, the Security Council has yet another great opportunity in becoming a strong guarantor of security to all non-nuclear-weapon States in that they will not be the subject of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The Council is also encouraged to commence discussions and give concrete guidance on security issues in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation process. The Council should seize this moment and become a valid advocate in the cause of reaching a world free of nuclear weapons and take a leadership role in bolstering international support for multilateral nuclear arms control treaties and ongoing nuclear disarmament efforts. For this, the Holy See urges concerned States to adopt clear and firm decisions and commitments, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear weapons assault life on the planet, they assault the planet itself, and in so doing they assault the process of the continuing development of the planet. In their nature, nuclear weapons are not only baneful but also completely fallacious. Taking into account that nuclear deterrence pertains to the Cold War era and is no longer justifiable in our days, the Holy See strongly advocates re-directing those military doctrines which continue to rely on nuclear weapons as a means of security and defence or even measure of power, which have evidently shown to be among the main causes preventing genuine nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, thus jeopardizing the very integrity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Abandoning such doctrines is to freeze nuclear tests, still witnessed recently; it is to address seriously the issues of nuclear strategic arms, the tactical ones and the means of delivery of these weapons. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) therefore is of the highest priority, and the realization of which requires concrete steps towards its ratification by nine States. The universal banning of explosions would inhibit the development of nuclear weapons, contributing to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and preventing further damage to the environment. In this direction, it is crucial to halt the production and transfer of fissile material for weapons. The immediate commencement of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) is a matter of responsibility and it must not be further delayed.

The Cold War era has given to the world a nuclear arms race, where the winner was the State with the biggest and most powerful arsenals of nuclear weapons. Today's world demands a courageous leadership in reducing those arsenals to a complete zero. In order to achieve this, States need trust and security. Nuclear-weapons-free zones are the best example of trust, confidence and affirmation that peace and security is possible without possessing nuclear weapons. The Holy See thus encourages the nuclear-weapon States and those which possess such weapons to ratify all the protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone treaties and strongly supports efforts to establish such a zone in the Middle East.

Celebration of the World's Day of Peace on 21 September has concluded the Secretary-General's multiplatform campaign "WMD-WeMustDisarm" aimed at raising awareness of the dangers and costs of nuclear weapons and whose acronym derives from that of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The Holy See shares and firmly commends this strong message which must resonate in all the disarmament debates, leading to the creation of an environment favourable to ensuring human advancement (cf. Art. 11). Disarmament and development are interrelated and complementary. Hence, to this campaign "We Must Disarm" we all may add: and the "World Must Develop" towards advancement of the culture of peace and achievement of the development goals for the enduring benefit of each individual member of the human family and for generations to come in a world free of nuclear weapons.


Holy See on UN Reform
"Rights Always Exist Inseparably From Responsibilities and Duties"

NEW YORK, SEPT. 29, 2009 - Here is the address given today by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, to the general debate of the 64th session of the U.N. general assembly.

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Mr. President,

As you assume the presidency of this 64th session of the General Assembly, my delegation wishes you all the best in your endeavors and looks forward to working with you in order to address the many challenges facing the global community.

Every year anticipation surrounds the General Assembly in the hope that governments will be able to find points of agreement on the persisting problems that afflict humanity and adopt common direction for resolving them in a peaceful manner for the well-being of all.

Understandably, the deliberations of the preceding session of the General Assembly were dominated by preoccupation with the world financial and economic crisis. It is only fitting that this year delegations have been asked to focus on effective responses to global crises: strengthening multilateralism and dialogue among civilizations for international peace, security and development.

In view of a political and cultural dialogue oriented toward the harmonious evolving of the world economy and international relations we would do well to revisit the preamble of the Charter of the United Nations where it affirms: "We the peoples of the United Nations determined...to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small...."

The various world crises that intertwined in the last months bring to the discussion presuppositions of thought and principles of individual, social and international behavior, which extend well beyond the financial or economic field. The idea of producing resources and assets, i.e., the economy, and strategically managing them, i.e., politics, without wanting together with the same actions, to carry out also the good, i.e., ethics, has been proven to be a nave or cynical and fatal delusion. A more solid and profound contribution that the General Assembly must give to the solution of the international problems lies in promoting the principles contained in the preamble and in article 1 of the Charter of this Organization, in a manner that such high human and spiritual values serve to renovate the international order from within, where the real crisis lies.

A first element of truth is found exactly in the "We the peoples of the United Nations." The theme of peace and development, in fact, coincides with that of the relational inclusion of all peoples in the unique community of the human family that is constructed in solidarity.

Evident in the diverse G8, G20, regional and international meetings, held in parallel with the work of the preceding General Assembly, was the necessity to give legitimacy to the political commitments assumed, confronting them with the thought and needs of the entire international Community, so that the devised solutions would be able to reflect the points of view and the expectations of the populations of all the continents. That is why efficacious modes must be found to connect the decisions of the various groupings of Countries to those of the UN, where every nation, with its political and economic weight, can legitimately explain itself in a situation of equality with others.

Mr. President,

It is in this context of truth and sincerity that the recent appeal of Pope Benedict XVI is put in perspective. As he notes in his Encyclical, Charity in Truth, "in the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession," for an urgent "reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth." Such reform is urgent "to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making" (n. 67).

Admittedly, the duty to build the United Nations as a true center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends is an extremely difficult task. The more the interdependence of peoples increases, the more the necessity of the United Nations becomes evident. The need to have an organization capable of responding to the obstacles and increasing complexity of the relations between peoples and nations thus becomes paramount.

The United Nations will advance toward the formation of a true family of nations to the extent that it assumes the truth of the inevitable interdependence among peoples, and to the extent that it takes up the truth about the human person, in accordance with its Charter.

Mr. President,

As we consider the nature of development and the role of donor and recipient countries, we must always remember that true development necessarily involves an integral respect for human life which cannot be disconnected from the development of peoples. Unfortunately in some parts of the world today, development aid seems to be tied rather to the recipient countries' willingness to adopt programs which discourage demographic growth of certain populations by methods and practices disrespectful of human dignity and rights. In this regard, it is both cynical and unfortunate that frequent attempts continue to be made to export such a mentality to developing countries as if it were a form of cultural progress or advancement. Yet such a practice is by its nature not one of reciprocity but imposition, and to predicate the decision to give development aid on the acceptance of such policies constitutes an abuse of power.

Every human being has the right to good governance, that is, all social actions, at the national and international level, contribute directly or indirectly, to guarantee for all persons a free and dignified life. At the same time, it is an essential part of that dignity that everyone takes responsibility for his actions and actively respects the dignity of others. Rights always exist inseparably from responsibilities and duties. This applies to individual men and women and analogically to States, whose true progress and affirmation depends on their capacity to establish and maintain responsible relations with other States and to express a shared responsibility for world problems.

At the origin of many of the current global crises is the pretense of States and of individual persons that only they have rights and their reluctance to take responsibility for their own and other people's integral development. Often in the activity of international organisms is reflected an inconsistency already widespread in the more developed societies: on the one hand, appeals are made to alleged rights, arbitrary and non-essential in nature, accompanied by the demand that they be recognized and promoted by public entities, while, on the other hand, fundamental and basic rights, already explicit in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, remain unacknowledged and are violated in much of the world. The rights and duties of Nations do not only depend upon agreements, treaties and resolutions of the international organisms, but find their ultimate foundation in the equal dignity of every individual man and woman, be they citizens or aliens. Ultimately, true multilateralism and dialogue among cultures must be based on assuming the duty of commitment for the development of all human beings. We must not forget that the sharing of reciprocal duties is a more powerful incentive to action than the mere assertion of rights.

In this light, the equity of the international commercial system and world financial architecture will be measured by the creation of permanent sources of jobs, stability of work, the just retribution of local production and the availability of public and private credit for production and work, especially in the poorest countries and regions. Thus, the effects of the inevitable economic cycles will be buffered, preventing them from becoming new and more serious global crises.

The implementation of the principle of the "responsibility to protect," as formulated at the 2005 World Summit and approved by unanimous consensus of all UN Member States, becomes a touchstone of the two enunciated principles of truth in international relations and of global governance. The recognition of the core objective and indispensability of the dignity of every man and woman, ensures that the governments always undertake with every means at their disposal to prevent and combat crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and any other crimes against humanity. Thus, recognizing their interconnected responsibility to protect, States will realize the importance of accepting the collaboration of the international community as a means of fulfilling their role of providing responsible sovereignty.

The mechanisms of the United Nations for addressing common security and the prevention of conflicts were developed in response to the threat of total war and nuclear destruction in the second half of the last century and for this reason alone they deserve perennial historical remembrance. Moreover, the works of peacekeepers have ended and stabilized innumerable local conflicts and have made reconstruction possible. Nevertheless, it is well known that the number of conflicts that the United Nations has not been able to resolve remains high and that many of these conflicts have become occasions of serious crimes against humanity. That is why the acceptance of the principle of the responsibility to protect and of the underlying truths which guide responsible sovereignty can be the catalyst for the reform of the mechanisms, procedures and representativeness of the Security Council.

In this context, Mr. President, my delegation would like to remember here the Honduran people who continue to undergo suffering, frustration and hardships from the already too long political upheaval. Once more, the Holy See urges the concerned parties to make every effort to find a prompt solution in view of the good of the people of Honduras.

Mr. President, this session of the General Assembly began with a special Summit on climate change and will soon hold the Copenhagen Climate Conference (8-16 December 2009). The protection of the environment continues to be at the forefront of multilateral activities, because it involves in cohesive form the destiny of all the Nations and the future of every individual man and woman. Recognition of the double truth of interdependence and personal dignity also requires that environmental issues are taken as a moral imperative and translated into legal rules, capable of protecting our planet and ensuring to future generations a healthy and safe environment.

In closing, Mr. President, in these changing times the international community - "we the peoples" - has the unique chance and responsibility to ensure full implementation of the UN Charter and thus greater peace and understanding among the Nations.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Vatican Statement on the Responsibility to Protect
"Find the Power to Forgive So That True Peace Can Emerge"

NEW YORK, JULY 29, 2009 - Here is the statement given Tuesday by the Holy See Delegation to the United Nations at a General Assembly debate on the report "Implementing the Responsibility to Protect."

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Mr. President,

Four years ago the largest gathering of Heads of State took place at the United Nations in order to bring attention to the need to create a United Nations system more capable of responding to the needs of an ever changing world. There world leaders adopted the World Summit Outcome Document, which affirmed especially the responsibility of all nations and the international community to protect people from the threat of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

As outlined in the Document, the responsibility to protect is guided by three mutually reinforcing and supportive elements: first, the primary responsibility of every state to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; second, the responsibility of the international community to help states build the capacity to exercise their primary responsibility, and third, the responsibility of the international community to take effective action when a state has failed to exercise properly its authority.

The first priority is for national governances to exercise their authority in a way which protects individuals and populations from future mass atrocities. National and local authorities which fail to intervene to protect their civilians or actually work to help perpetuate the crime fail in their basic functions and should face legal responsibility for their action and inaction. In this regard, a human centered approach to developing policies to protect populations from grave violations of human rights and developing humanitarian law and other internationally agreed legal standards present vital components to fulfilling the national responsibility. Further, national policies which foster greater inclusion and protection of religious, racial and ethnic minorities remain key priorities for fostering greater dialogue and understanding between and amongst populations.

Under the second pillar is the role of the international community in building the capacity of States to protect their populations. The international community has a moral responsibility to fulfill its various commitments. Through providing financial and technical support, the international community can help create the means and mechanisms for responding quickly to evolving humanitarian crises. In this regard, local organizations, including faith-based organizations, with a long-term knowledge and understanding of the region, provide vital support in building cultural and religious bridges between groups. In addition, greater financial support from developed countries to alleviate extreme poverty serves to help reduce long term economic and political divides and helps to ease some of the motivating factors behind violence. Finally, promotion of the rule of law at the national and international level provides the framework for preventing ongoing injustices and provides the mechanism to ensuring that those responsible for perpetuating these crimes are held accountable in a way which promotes justice and lasting peace.

The third pillar of the responsibility of the international community to intervene when national authorities fail to act often draws the greatest scrutiny. Unfortunately this element has too often focused solely on the use of violence in order to prevent or stop violence rather than on the various ways in which intervention can be made in a non-violent manner. Timely intervention which places emphasis upon mediation and dialogue has a greater ability to promote the responsibility to protect than military action. Binding mediation and arbitration present an opportunity for the international community to intervene in a manner which prevents violence. Further, targeted actions, such as sanctions, which are carefully aimed at preventing the spread of violence instead of at civilian populations, are also means upon which the international community can agree to promote responsible sovereignty.

For the third pillar to gain momentum and efficacy, further efforts must be made to ensure that action taken pursuant to the powers of the Security Council is done in an open and inclusive manner and that the needs of the affected populations, rather than the whims of geopolitical power struggles, are placed in the forefront. By doing so, we are able to respond to our moral obligation to intervene on behalf of those whose human rights and very right to exist are placed in jeopardy. It is therefore imperative that those countries in position to exercise their authority within the Security Council do so in a manner which reflects the selflessness needed for taking an effective, timely and human centered approach to saving people from grave atrocities.

In addition to the role of national and international institutions, religious and community leaders have an important role in promoting the responsibility to protect. Too often in many regions of the world, ethnic, racial and religious intolerance have given rise to violence and killing of people. The exploitation of faith in the furtherance of violence is a corruption of faith and of people, and religious leaders are called to challenge such thinking. Faith should be seen as a reason to come together rather than divide for it is through faith that communities and individuals are able to find the power to forgive so that true peace can emerge.

While it took the international community many years and many lost lives to come to the agreement as expressed in the World Summit Outcome Document, it is my delegation's hope that its implementation is done as fully as possible so that succeeding generations are spared the agony that genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity have caused the entire global community.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See to UN on Global Trends and Development
"The Global Economic Crisis Continues Unabated"

GENEVA, JULY 9, 2009 - Here is the statement Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, gave today at a High-Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council on "Current global and national trends and their impact on social development, including public health."

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Madame President,

1. The international community is struggling to find solutions to the financial and economic crisis that greed and lack of ethical responsibility have brought about. While analysts debate the causes of the crisis, the social consequences of new poverty, loss of jobs, malnutrition and stifled development, all impact the most vulnerable groups of people and therefore call for effective and pro mpt answers. The Delegation of the Holy See appreciates the fact that the focus of attention is directed in this High-Level Segment, in a most timely manner, on "Current global and national trends and their impact on social development, including public health." The global economic crisis continues unabated. It is exacerbated by the emergence of a previously unknown influenza virus, A-H1N1 already recognized at pandemic proportion with a future impact that cannot be projected with much certainty, and by the global food security crisis that endangers the lives of millions of people, particularly the world’s poorest, many of whom already suffer from acute and chronic malnutrition. These examples show once again the link between poverty and health and the disproportionate burden on developing countries and even on the poor in the developed ones. Faced with such urgent global challenges, the future is mortgaged in a way that young people risk to inherit a severely compromised economic system, a society without cohesion, and a planet damaged in its sustainability as a home for the whole human family.

2. The Holy See Delegation notes with deep concern predictions by the World Bank that during 2009, an additional 53 to 65 million people will be trapped in extreme poverty and that the number of people chronically hungry will exceed one billion, 800 million of whom live in rural areas where public health is weakest and where innovative health care initiatives are urgent. We can reasonably conclude that significant numbers of those extremely poor and hungry people will be more at risk of contracting both communicable and chronic, non-communicable diseases. Moreover, if they are faced with cutbacks in international aid or if there is an increased number of people seeking care, the already fragile public health systems in developing countries will not be able to respond adequately to the health needs of their most vulnerable citizens. In addressing this problem, even more than an expression of solidarity, it is a matter of justice to overcome the temptation to reduce public services for a short-term benefit against the long-term human cost. In the same line, aid for development should be maintained and even increased as a critical factor in renewing the economy and leading us out of the crisis.

Madame President,

3. Another key obstacle to achieving the internationally articulated goals in public health is to address the inequalities that exist both between countries and within countries, and between racial and ethnic groups. Tragically, women continue in many regions to receive poorer quality health care. This situation is well known to people and institutions working on the ground. The Catholic Church sponsors 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 health clinics, 15,448 homes for the elderly and disabled, and other health care programmes throughout the world, but especially in the most isolated and marginalized areas and among people who rarely enjoy access to health care provided under national, provincial or district level governmental health schemes. In this regard, special attention is given to Africa, where the Catholic Church has pledged to continue to stand alongside the poorest people in this continent in order to uphold the inherent dignity of all persons.

4. There is an increasing recognition that a plurality of actors, in the respect of the principle of subsidiarity, contribute to the implementation of the human right to primary health care. Among the civil society organizations assuring health care within various national systems, the programmes sponsored by the Catholic Church and other faith-based organizations stand out as key stakeholders. WHO officials have acknowledged that such organizations “provide a substantial portion of care in developing countries, often reaching vulnerable populations living under adverse conditions.”[1] However, despite their excellent and documented record in the field of HIV service delivery and primary health care, faith-based organizations do not receive an equitable share of the resources designated to support global, national and local health initiatives.

5. The mere quantitative tracking of aid flows and the multiplication of global health initiatives alone may not be sufficient to assure “Health for All”. Access to primary health care and affordable life-saving drugs is vital to improving global health and fostering a shared globalized response to the basic needs of all. In an increasingly interdependent world, even sickness and viruses have no boundaries, and therefore, greater global cooperation becomes not only a practical necessity, but more importantly, an ethical imperative of solidarity. However, we must be guided by the best healthcare tradition that respects and promotes the right to life from conception until natural death for all regardless of race, disability, nationality, religion, sex and socio-economic status. Failure to place the promotion of life at the center of health care decisions results in a society in which an individual’s absolute right to basic health care and life would be limited by the ability to pay, by the perceived quality of life and other subjective decisions which sacrifice life and health in exchange for short-term social, economic and political advantage.

6. In conclusion, Madame President, the Holy See Delegation wishes to call attention to the need for more than financial solutions to the challenges posed by the economic crisis to global efforts aimed at assuring universal access to health care. In his new encyclical Pope Benedict XVI states:

"Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility."[2]

An ethical approach to development is needed which implies a new model of global development centered on the human person rather than profit, and inclusive of the needs and aspirations of the entire human family.

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[1] DeCock, Kevin (2007), "Faith-based organizations play a major role in HIV/AIDS care and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa," as quoted in press release by the World Health Organisation, 9 February 2007, Washington, D.C.

[2] Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter "Caritas in Veritate," n. 36.


Holy See on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
"These Measures Are Necessary to Promote Trust, Transparency, Confidence and Cooperation"

NEW YORK, MAY 5, 2009 - Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered today to a committee on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons treaty.

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Mr. Chairman,

At the outset allow me to congratulate you on your election to the Chairmanship of the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

After four decades of its existence and its good service to the international community, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remains a cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regimes as well as a key instrument seeking to strengthen international peace and security. The Holy See reaffirms its strong and continuing support for the NPT and calls for universal and full adherence to and compliance with the Treaty.

Last year marked the Treaty's fortieth anniversary. Unfortunately, we note today that more than 26,000 nuclear warheads remain in the world and some nations are still racing to join the "nuclear club," despite the Treaty's legally binding obligations in the areas of disarmament and non- proliferation. In light of this the validity and relevance of the Treaty remain an urgent call for all States to join their efforts in achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world.

After many years of stalemate and even regress, we can observe with satisfaction some good signs in the field of putting again nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at the center of the international debate on peace and security. The many initiatives taken by Governments, international organizations and civil society are one step in the right direction. My Delegation commends national policies and bilateral agreements to reduce nuclear arsenals and looks forward to seeing progress in addressing issues related to nuclear arms and the delivery of these weapons. The different initiatives taken and the positions expressed in the last months are encouraging steps which inspire renewed hope that the goal of a nuclear-weapons-free world is achievable. However, as long as nuclear weapons exist they will always pose a danger to humanity of being used or falling into the hands of terrorists, threatening peace and security and even human existence itself.

The Holy See stresses the need for concrete, transparent and convincing steps in the fields of disarmament and non-proliferation under the guidance of the NPT principles. To build on the new momentum, the Holy See delegation is of the opinion that five objectives could be reached in a short period of time:

-- The entry into force of the CTBT is essential and achievable if States are serious about their commitment to a nuclear-weapons-free world.

-- The immediate commencement of negotiations of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty is overdue.

-- Nuclear weapon States have to interpret their military doctrines as precluding any reliance on nuclear weapons.

-- The peaceful use of nuclear energy should be under strict control of the International Atomic Energy Agency. All countries should join all relevant instruments in this area. The non-proliferation side of the NPT must be strengthened through increasing the capacity of the IAEA, and through further enhancement of the Agency's safeguards system.

-- With the growing need for energy, it is imperative to find common solutions and international structures for the production of nuclear fuel. In this area, the IAEA should have a leading role to ensure safety, security and fair access for all.

All these measures are necessary to promote trust, transparency, confidence, and cooperation among nations and regions. The nuclear-weapons-free zones remain the best example of such trust and confidence, and affirm that peace and security is possible without possessing nuclear weapons. The Holy See thus calls upon all the nuclear weapon States to take a courageous leadership role and political responsibility in safeguarding the very integrity of the NPT and in creating a climate of trust, transparency and true cooperation, with a view to the concrete realization of a culture of life and peace. In an effort to put priorities and hierarchies of values in their proper place, greater common effort must be made to mobilize resources toward ethical, cultural and economic development so that humanity can turn its back on the arms race.

Nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and peaceful use are the three mutually reinforcing pillars. Urgent and irreversible progress is required on all fronts. Today's growing expansion of civil nuclear energy programmes poses new potential challenges to the non-proliferation regime. But without serious and concrete steps towards disarmament, the non-proliferation pillar will be further weakened.

Mr. Chairman, as we prepare for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the Holy See makes an appeal that the difficult and complex issues of the Review Conference be addressed in an even-handed way. At the same time, my Delegation assures you of its full support in your endeavours towards a successful outcome of this session.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.


Holy See on Racism
"Without a Change of Heart, Laws Are Not Effective"

GENEVA, Switzerland, APRIL 22, 2009 - Here is the text of the statement Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, gave today at the U.N. Durban Review Conference on racism under way through Friday.

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Mr. President,

Allow me to express my congratulations for your election and wish you, the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the entire Bureau success in leading this Conference to a positive conclusion.

Mr. President,

1. The Delegation of the Holy See shares in the aspiration of the international community to overcome all forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in the awareness that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" and are united in one human family. In fact, a just international community is properly developed when the natural desire of human persons to relate to each other is not distorted by prejudice, fear of others or selfish interests that undermine the common good. In all its manifestations, racism makes the false claim that some human beings have less dignity and value than others; it thus infringes upon their fundamental equality as God's children and it leads to the violation of the human rights of individuals and of entire groups of persons.

As party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and to the common efforts of the United Nations and other relevant international organizations, the Holy See endeavours to assume fully its responsibility in accord with its proper mission. It is engaged in combating all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in a spirit of cooperation. The Holy See actively participated in the Durban Conference of 2001 and, without hesitation, gave its moral support to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) in the full knowledge that combating racism is a necessary and indispensable prerequisite for the construction of governance, sustainable development, social justice, democracy and peace in the world.

2. Today globalization brings people together, but spatial and temporal proximity does not of itself create the conditions for constructive interaction and peaceful communion. In fact, racism persists: the stranger and those who are different too often are rejected to the point that barbarous acts are committed against them, including genocide and ethnic cleansing. Old forms of exploitation give way to new ones: women and children are trafficked in a contemporary form of slavery, irregular immigrants are abused, persons perceived to be or who in fact are different become, in disproportionate numbers, the victims of social and political exclusion, ghetto conditions and stereotyping. Girls are forced into unwanted marriages; Christians are jailed or killed because of their beliefs. Lack of solidarity, an increase fragmentation of social relations in our multicultural societies, spontaneous racism and xenophobia, social and racial discrimination, particularly regarding minorities and emarginated groups, and political exploitation of differences, are evident in everyday experience. The global impact of the current economic crisis affects, most of all, the vulnerable groups of society; this demonstrates how too often racism and poverty are inter-related in a destructive combination.

The Holy See is also alarmed by the still latent temptation of eugenics that can be fuelled by techniques of artificial procreation and the use of "superfluous embryos". The possibility of choosing the colour of the eyes or other physical characteristic of a child could lead to the creation of a "subcategory of human beings" or the elimination of human beings that do not fulfil the characteristics predetermined by a given society. Moreover, increased security concerns and the consequent introduction of excessive measures and practices have created a greater lack of confidence among people of different cultures and have exacerbated the irrational fear of foreigners. The legitimate fight against terrorism should never undermine the protection and promotion of human rights.

3. Building on progress already made, our Durban Review Conference can be the occasion to set aside mutual differences and mistrust; reject once more any theory of racial or ethnic superiority; and renew the international community's commitment to the elimination of all expressions of racism as an ethical requirement of the common good, the attainment of which "is the sole reason of existence of civil authorities" at national, regional and international levels. Sharing resources and best practices in the concerted effort to implement the recommendations of the DDPA to eradicate racism is to acknowledge the centrality of the human person and the equal dignity of all persons. Such a task is the duty and responsibility of everyone. It is a clear example that doing what is right pays a political dividend since it lays the foundation for a peaceful, productive and mutually enriching living together.

4. International covenants and declarations as well as national legislation are indispensable to create a public culture and to provide binding provisions capable of combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Without a change of heart, however, laws are not effective. It is the heart that must continually be purified so that it will no longer be governed by fear or the spirit of domination, but by openness to others, fraternity and solidarity. An irreplaceable role is played by education that shapes mentalities and helps to form consciences to embrace a more comprehensive view of reality and reject any form of racism and discrimination. Some educational systems should be reviewed so that every aspect of discrimination may be eliminated from teaching, textbooks, curricula and visual resources. The end-process of such education is not only the recognition of everyone as having equal human worth and the elimination of racist thinking and attitudes, but also the conviction that States and individuals must take the initiative and make themselves a neighbour to all. Informal and general education plays a crucial role as well. Media, therefore, should be accessible and free of racist and ideological control as this leads to discrimination and even violence against persons of different cultural and ethnic background. In this way, educational systems and media join the rest of society in upholding human dignity which only a collective action of all sectors of society can protect and promote. In such a context of mutual acceptance, the right of access to education on the part of racial, ethnic and religious minorities will be respected as a human right that ensures the cohesion of society with the contribution of everyone's talents and capacities.

5. In the fight against racism, faith communities play a major part. The Catholic Church, for example, has not spared its best energies to strengthen its many scholastic institutions, to establish new ones, to be present in dangerous situations where human dignity is trampled upon and the local community is disrupted. In this vast educational network, it teaches how to live together and how to recognize that any form of racial prejudice and discrimination hurts the common dignity of every person created in the image of God and the development of a just and welcoming society. For this reason, it stresses that "individuals come to maturity through receptive openness to others and through generous self-giving to them... In this perspective, dialogue between cultures... emerges as an intrinsic demand of human nature itself, as well as of culture... Dialogue leads to a recognition of diversity and opens the mind to the mutual acceptance and genuine collaboration demanded by the human family's basic vocation to unity. As such, dialogue is a privileged means for building the civilization of love and peace." The contribution of faith communities in combating racism and building a non-discriminatory society becomes more effective if there is a genuine respect of the right to freedom of religion as clearly enshrined in human rights instruments. Unfortunately discrimination does not spare religious minorities, a fact that increasingly concerns the international community. The response to this legitimate concern is the full implementation of religious freedom for individuals and their collective exercise of this basic human right. While the right to freedom of expression is not a license to insult the followers of any religion or stereotype their faith, existing mechanisms that provide legal accountability for incitement to racial and religious hatred should be used in the framework of human rights law to protect all believers and non-believers. National judicial systems should favour the practice of ‘reasonable accommodation' of religious practices and should not be used to justify the failure to protect and promote the right to profess and freely practice one's religion.

6. The challenges ahead of us demand more effective strategies in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. These are evils that corrode the social fabric of society and produce innumerable victims. The first step for a practical solution lies in an integral education that includes ethical and spiritual values which will favour the empowerment of vulnerable groups like refugees, migrants and people on the move, racial and cultural minorities, people prisoners of extreme poverty or who are ill and disabled, and girls and women still stigmatized as inferior in some societies where an irrational fear of differences prevent full participation in social life. Secondly, in order to achieve coherence among the various structures and mechanisms designed to counteract racial attitudes and behaviour, it is necessary to undertake a new examination aimed at making the various approaches more incisive and efficient. Thirdly, the universal ratification of major instruments against racism and discrimination, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, will signal the political will of the international community to fight all expressions of racism. Finally, there is no substitute for fair national legislation that explicitly condemns all forms of racism and discrimination and enables all citizens to participate publicly in the life of their country on the basis of equality in both duties and rights.

7. Therefore, the work of this Conference has taken a step forward in combating racism, the reason for most countries to stay and join efforts for an outcome that responds to the need of eliminating old and new manifestations of racism. The Conference, as an international forum for the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, has unfortunately been used to utter extreme and offensive political positions that the Holy See deplores and rejects: they do not contribute to dialogue, they provoke unacceptable conflicts, and in no way can be approved or shared.

Mr. President,

8. Eight years ago the countries of the world engaged themselves in a global commitment to combat racism through the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action. This vision of change remains incomplete in its implementation, and so the journey must continue. Progress will be achieved through a renewed determination to translate into action the convictions reaffirmed at the present Conference "that all peoples and individuals constitute one human family, rich in diversity" and that all human beings are equal in dignity and rights. Only then will the victims of racism be free and a common future of peace, ensured.


Holy See on Development Goals
"Provide Economic Assistance and Investment in Human Capital"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2009 - Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered Wednesday to a commission on population and development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

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Madam Chair,

My delegation takes this opportunity to express its best wishes to you and the Bureau for a productive session and looks forward to working with the membership to find means to ensure that the MDGs continue to receive the proper focus and commitment.

In reading the preparatory documents for this session of the Commission one cannot help but get the impression that populations are seen as the hindrance to greater social and economic development rather than vital contributors to the success of the Millennium Development Goals and greater sustainable development. Along with the preparatory statements by some NGOs, this literature gives the impression that the very institution which launched the MDGs fifteen years ago is giving priority to population control and getting the poor to accept these arrangements rather than primarily focusing upon its commitments to addressing education, basic health care, access to water, sanitation and employment.

Prior to the International Conference on Population and Development, many demographic experts and politicians warned that an increasing world population would create an overwhelming burden upon the world with dire possible consequences including food shortages, mass starvation, environmental destruction and resource driven conflict. Now, fifteen years later, the population growth has begun to slow, food production continues to rise to the point where it is capable of supporting a larger global population and is even being diverted to the production of fuel. It is almost ironic that environmental destruction is perpetrated primarily by States with lower growth rates and that developed countries are supporting population growth at home while simultaneously working to reduce it in developing countries.

Further, the increased birth rates in Africa over the last decades have been identified by experts as lowering the elderly dependency ratio and presenting the population with a plentiful workforce capable of providing the Continent with an unprecedented advantage in economic terms over regions whose ageing populations show growing economic challenges.

To capitalize on this opportunity, for Africa and ultimately for the whole world, greater commitment must be made to provide economic assistance and investment in human capital and infrastructure to support economic growth. Consequently, additional funding programs which focus upon lowering population growth rather than fostering an environment for development will slow, not expedite, the achievement of the MDGs.

The stabilization of population and the need to foster development are serious issues. The Holy See continues to believe that the proper focus for addressing global development should primarily be on programmes and values which support personal and social development. Access to education, economic opportunity, political stability, basic health care and support for the family must remain the basis for achieving the MDGs. These priorities throughout history have provided the platform for economic and social growth and accompanying increase in responsible parenthood.

The Holy See’s offices and members of faith communities continue to serve at the front-line for addressing greater global poverty, human rights and development. Through its continued presence and emphasis on providing quality and affordable education, health care, access to food and respect for all human rights, the Holy See and its various organizations show that care for the poor, along with overall poverty reduction, serves as a model for a human centered approach to development.

My delegation reaffirms its reservations made at the Cairo and Beijing Conferences as well as its consistent affirmation that abortion is not a legitimate form of sexual and reproductive health, rights or services. Likewise, it hopes that international organizations and policymakers maintain or, where necessary, redirect public efforts towards the human centered approach to achieving the MDGs.

Thank you, Madam Chair.


Cardinal Martino's Address at Congress on Women
"There Will Be No New Feminism Without God"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, gave at the conclusion of the 1st International Conference on Woman and Human Rights.

The March 20-21 conference focused on the theme of "Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights."

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1. It is for me to say a conclusive word at the end of this 1st International Conference on "Life, Family, Development: The Role of Women in the Promotion of Human Rights," which witnessed a broad and passionate intervention in the debate on the different subjects proposed in the program. For all this we want to thank the Lord who has helped us and guided us, illuminating with his Spirit all that was good and significant which was carried out in our meeting. I wish to express my profound gratitude to professor Olimpia Tarzia, president of the World Women's Alliance for Life and Family, and to Mrs. Karen M. Hurley, president of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations, for having associated their organizations to this International Conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. To work together, with respect for our reciprocal competencies and functions, has been a very effective and farsighted way to address the problems of our time. My gratitude and yours is also directed to the speakers who introduced masterfully the different working sessions. Allow me to thank monsignor Crepaldi, who does beautiful work behind the scenes, the members of the Pontifical Council and above all doctor Flaminia Giovanelli, who has spent time and energy, with much love and tireless generosity for the success of the Conference. My heartfelt thanks to the interpreters who, with their usual professionalism, have enable us to understand, to talk and to listen to one another.

2. We express our particular gratitude to the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who has made us feel his paternity and proximity sending us a message of confidence and hope, rich with the suggestive proposal of a Christianity of yes: yes to God, Father of the whole of humanity and Creator of man and woman in his image and likeness; of a Christianity of yes to life, to all life and to the life of all, always, above all to that life that is threatened by extreme poverty, denied and disfigured by violence and war, rejected with abortion and euthanasia, arbitrarily manipulated by new technologies, misunderstood by old and new slaveries; of a Christianity of yes to the family founded on marriage for love, unitive and fecund, between man and woman, whose sexual difference is the reflection of a God who is creative charity in the perfect relationship of love between the Father, the Son in the Holy Spirit; a Christianity of yes to women and their genius capable of embellishing the difficult path of humanity in the historical and cultural perspective of that humanism that Paul VI described it prophetically in "Populorum Progressio," when he affirmed that it should be integral, solidary and open to God; of a Christianity of yes to confidence because, with realism and wisdom, it is able to evangelize the hope of the men and women of our time who are in extreme need, without turning to desperate and paralyzing positions that, in the end, imply a sinful lack of faith in God, who is always and forever He who with provident love governs the destinies of history; a Christianity of yes to life, to the human person, to solidarity and to the future. Our conference ends with this joyful and promising desire: that Christian women will choose to be, with all their being, the interpreters and leaders of this Christianity of yes. It seems to me that this is the path that must be undertaken to give consistency and form to this new feminism, which was also requested in the message of the Holy Father Benedict XVI.

3. The challenges we have before us to carry out this new feminism have been manifested in the works of our conference. They are challenges born and developed within the climate of modernity and post-modernity, characterized in their essence by the projects and experiences, collective and generalized, common to the so-called feminine emancipation, today a global sign and indelible mark of our time, though with very different manifestations in the different continental realities. Feminine emancipation has been and is an historical event, marked by ambivalent and contrasting meanings, on which must be exercised a constant, patient, intelligent and wise Christian discernment, to extract the good, combat the evil, and guide the uncertain: a Christian discernment inspired and guided by an integral and solidaristic humanism, firmly directed to advancing the civilization of love.

It is not part of the literary genre to repeat everything that has been said and debated over these two days. Nevertheless, I cannot exempt myself from recalling hastily some realms in which this discernment is being required, today in a particular way because of the urgent character that some challenges present.

a) The first realm refers to the relationship between nature and culture, because it is on this relationship that the fundamental question is at stake: what is the human person, sexual difference, identity of marriage and the family, etc. To deny nature, namely, to deny that the human person is first of all a project willed and carried out by God the Creator, which it is not good to subvert arbitrarily, is the central point that must be very clear. When nature is denied, the human person is no longer a project, but becomes inexorably a product either of culture or of technology. In this perspective, there would be no genuine emancipation, but an inexorable dehumanization. The new feminism cannot ignore this challenge. A feminism must be promoted inspired by a concept of the person understood as project of God -- a project to accept, respect and realize with responsible liberty -- and reject a feminism inspired in a concept of the person understood as product of the diverse and changing present cultural landscape, often expression of greater skillfully manipulated changes. The Christian faith has the power to inspire a consistent vision of the world and Christian women must be open to dialogue with the other many visions that compete to win the minds and hearts of our contemporaries. Pluralism is fully admissible and also obligatory, when it is an expression of the good and of the multiplicity of itineraries that can be undertaken to carry it out, or also when it expresses the complexity of the questions on which a definitive vision cannot be given. However, when principles of the natural moral law or the very dignity of any human being are at stake, there can be no compromise. There are non-negotiable questions that do not allow for abolition and democracy cannot be a commitment with a downward tendency, because in this case the common good would be transformed in the lesser common evil.

b) The second realm that calls for our careful discernment has to do with the differences of context, above all of a cultural character, which influence the projects of promotion of woman. Despite the global world, the problems are and continue to be local, and hence require differentiated and realistic approaches. However, if a strategic line must be proposed for a new feminism, nourished by the liberating force of the Gospel, I would say that it is necessary to free oneself courageously from all the cultural baggage -- that which is typical of underdevelopment and over-development -- which mortifies the integral dignity of woman and her fundamental rights as person, impeding her genuine development and contribution to development. The baggage that must be denounced, such as structures of sin -- is still plentiful, too plentiful and it denies God's project. The key path to free ourselves from it is to invest abundantly in women, through education and formation. Many cultural and socio-economic obstacles can be overcome with formation. If the human capital is not cultivated, the social capital also diminishes and the economic capital does not function. When a person is poor in formation, society is also impoverished and the economic mechanism does not function either. Evidently, this discourse is true for all the continents, developed and developing, because when we speak of formation we must consider that, in order to be authentic, it must be made up of an integral and solidary humanism. As the present economic/financial crisis demonstrates, in the center of the same is manifested a dangerous deficit of moral and religious values and, hence, of an integral formation. The answer cannot just be technical/financial, but in the first place ethical, cultural and religious. To be rich does not coincide with being integrally developed. The economy does not exist on one hand and ethics or religion on the other. Justice does not exist on one hand, and love and charity on the other. Production does not exist on one hand and distribution on the other. Efficiency does not exist on one hand and solidarity on the other. The natural law does not exist on one hand and the new law on the other. To think of things this way means to accept that the world can function without God. If God's salvation does not affect all planes, in the end it is expelled from them all. This does not mean that the latter must invade them, but that its light guarantees their own autonomy and liberty, placing them in the truth.

c) The third realm I wish to touch upon, and on which a profound discernment is necessary, is that of the economic inequalities that, in a scandalous way, characterize our world, still marked by tragic phenomena such as hunger, pandemic illnesses and widespread poverty. It is true that in these areas, much progress has been made, but it is also true that there is still much to be done. Without a doubt, extreme poverty today appears in the suffering faces of women and children, an unacceptable scandal. If a new feminism is to be proposed, it cannot but have as an objective a more just and solidary world. Unfortunately, on this front, at all national and international levels, an infinity of words are wasted full of good intentions, but not going beyond this, as demonstrated by the uncertain policies of public aid to development, recently reconfirmed also in the International Conference of Doha on the financing of development. The Holy Father Benedict XVI, who will soon give us his first social encyclical, has forcefully recalled -- in his Message for this year's World Day of Peace -- the need, which cannot be postponed, to combat poverty in order to build peace. I am increasingly convinced that the battle against many poverties of the world is won if it begins from below, with exemplary initiatives, such as micro-finance and micro-credit, in which many women of the world are playing leading roles.

4. There will be no new feminism without God, above all if God is not discovered as Love. Monks -- the Pope said in Paris -- in seeking God also found the key to human relations, as no positive structure of the world can prevail where souls become savage. On this is based the right of citizenship -- to take up again the words of "Centesimus Annus" (No. 5) of John Paul II -- of the Christian faith in society, the right of God not to be left on the bench or put to one side. God's creation is according to truth, because God is Logos, but it is also according to charity, because God is love. Hence, in man's own nature one reads both the light of a design of authenticity on him and also a design of love. In fact, our nature is made up at the same time of intelligence and heart. Relations with others are not based only on concepts, but also and above all on acts of mutual love. Society needs rules that conform to human nature, but it also needs fraternal relations, of genuine fraternal love. The old feminism was based on egocentric individualism and, often, egoistic. The new feminism must be interlaced with love for life, the family and others; a feminism governed by charity, the queen of virtues. Thank you!


Holy See On Religious Discrimination and Dialogue
"Recognize the Important Role Religions Can Play Within Society"

GENEVA, Switzerland, MARCH 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, gave March 16 before the ordinary session of the Human Rights Council.

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Mr. President,

In her latest Report, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief informed the Human Rights Council that she "regularly receives reports of violation of the rights of members of religious minorities and vulnerable groups to carry out their religious activities". In many parts of the world, religious minorities, including Christian minorities, still face daily discrimination and prejudices. The Holy See expresses its concern on the increasing situations of religious intolerance and calls upon States to take all the necessary measures -- educational, legal and judicial -- intended to guarantee the respect of the right to freedom of religion and to protect religious minorities from discrimination.

At its first ever meeting on "intolerance and discrimination against Christians," the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) emphasized that the denial of the rights of Christian communities is not only an issue where they form a minority, but that discrimination and intolerance may also exist where Christians are a majority in society. It seems to my delegation that a number of States, that previously were committed to a balanced and healthy relationship between Church and State, are now increasingly siding with a new secularist policy that aims at reducing the role of religion in public life. In this regard, the Holy See calls upon these States to ne inclusive and to recognize the important role religions can play within society. Religions, in fact, contribute to the promotion of moral and social values, which go beyond an individualistic concept of society and development, seeking the common good as well as the protection and the respect of human dignity.

Mr. President,

Last autumn the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organized an experts' seminar on articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as a contribution to a clarifying debate on some possible areas of complementary standards.

Though the question concerning limitations to the Right to Freedom of Expression with a view to respecting the religious feelings of persons is a legitimate one -- many States have those limitations in their laws, including Western States -- the Holy See does not think that another international instrument is the right answer. My Delegation is of the opinion that the implementation of the universal principle of freedom of religion is the best protection; that each State should look into its own national legislation and should consider how it can encourage a frank but respectful discussion between members of the same religion, between representatives of different religions and persons who have no religious belief. One should, however, at all times keep in mind that the right to religious freedom is intrinsically related to the right to freedom of expression. Where followers of religions have no right to express their opinion freely, the freedom of religion is not guaranteed. Where persons are not allowed to engage in a honest discussion on the merits and/or flaws of a religion, the right to the truth is denied and the right to choose or change his/her religion or belief is seriously hampered.

Thank you Mr. President


Holy See on Men and Women Sharing Responsibilities
"Human Beings Are Not Only Autonomous and Equal But Also Interdependent"

NEW YORK, MARCH 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered today in an address to the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

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Mr. Chairman,

My delegation applauds the choice of such an important and timely topic for this discussion: the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS.

To consider care as a fundamental aspect of human life has profound implications.

Caregiving involves programs, policies and budgetary decisions, as well as personal attitude and commitment for the wellbeing of others. The interrelatedness between activity and personal attitude is self-evident but not always to be presupposed.

Human beings are not only autonomous and equal but also interdependent creatures, who regardless of their social status and stage of life may need care.

Focusing on care and sharing responsibility between women and men in coping with pressing issues such as prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, child-rearing, housework and support for older family members, leads us to think of the relationship between man and woman in society as interdependent.

The overcoming of the dilemma between autonomy and dependence also favors a new vision of the work of care that can no longer be attributed only to certain groups, such as women and immigrants, but must also be shared between all women and men, in households as well as in the public sector.

In particular, it is more and more untenable that there continue to be attitudes and places - even in health care - where women are discriminated against and their contribution to society is undervalued simply because they are women. Recourse to social and cultural pressure in order to maintain the inequality of the sexes is unacceptable.

Mr. Chairman, since our debate mainly focuses on sharing responsibilities and caregiving between women and men in the context of HIV/AIDS, the very first thought goes to the primary and best meaning of care, namely taking care, protecting and promoting the wellbeing of others. In this context, HIV/AIDS calls into question the values by which we live our lives and how we treat, or fail to treat, one another.

Community-based care and worldwide support for those suffering from this disease remain essential. Home-based care is the preferred means of care in many social and cultural settings, and is often more sustainable and successful over the long term when based within communities. In fact, when many members of a community are involved in care and support, there is less likely to be stigma associated with the disease.

Unfortunately, community- and home-based care is largely unrecognized, and many caregivers face precarious financial situations. Very little of the funds spent every year on providing assistance to those who are suffering as well as on much needed research to combat the disease go to supporting them. Studies have shown that community and home-based caregivers actually experience more stress than medical personnel; so better support must be provided for these persons, particularly women and older persons who are caregivers.

My delegation would also like to focus on some aspects of the globalization of caregiving which are affecting in particular poor and immigrant women. In societies characterized by important demographic transformations, familial and occupational and inadequate welfare systems, immigrant women respond to the demand to care for children, the sick, severely disabled people and the elderly. In many parts of the world, a true market has emerged in the area of home-based caregiving, in which women above all are found in situations of vulnerability due to non-regularization, social isolation, difficult working conditions and at times exploitation of every kind.

Governments should properly recognize that the budget and organization of public institutions are somewhat relieved by family-based caregiving and should thus adopt migration laws aimed at creating social integration and full protection of immigrant caregivers and fostering social integration. Likewise, supporting an appropriate professional formation that offers to home-based caregivers basic knowledge of health and psychology would upgrade their invaluable activity and eventually shield them from easy and reprehensible types of exploitation.

Developing countries are suffering from brain drain, as many of their educated, talented and skilled human capital - especially in the health sector - leave their places for better economic opportunities in rich countries. Market-forces get the blame for this, but this is an area where countries of origin, transit and destination need to work together to help developing countries retain, or at least readmit, these skilled members of their workforce, providing suitable incentives to recognize and better remunerate them so that caregivers may more easily be able to stay at home.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, too many cultures hold that care is to be restricted to the private sphere and presupposes that it is provided in the domestic realm.

Care in itself must become a topic of public debate and take on an importance capable of shaping political life and giving men and women the ability to be more concerned for the needs of others, more empathetic and able to focus on others.

Care, in this sense, has the capacity to create a process of democratization of society and to foster a public awareness aimed at social and effective justice and solidarity for all women and men.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See on Consequences of the Crisis
"A Strong Increase in Infant Mortality … Is Forecasted for 2009"

GENEVA, Switzerland, FEB. 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva gave Friday at the 10th special session of the Human Rights Council on the impact of the economic crisis and world finances.

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1. As we are daily reminded by the media, the world financial crisis has created a global recession causing dramatic social consequences, including the loss of millions of jobs and the serious risk that, for many of the developing countries, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) may not be reached. The human rights of countless persons are compromised, including the right to food, water, health and decent work. Above all, when large segments of a national population see their social and economic rights frustrated, the loss of hope endangers peace. The international community has a legitimate responsibility to ask why such a situation developed; whose responsibility it is; and how a concerted solution can lead us out of the crisis and facilitate the restoration of rights. The crisis was caused, in part, by problematic behaviour of some actors in the financial and economic system, including bank administrators and those who should have been more diligent in monitoring and accountability systems; thus they bear much responsibility for the current problems. The causes of the crisis, however, are deeper.

2. Reflecting, at that time, on the 1929 crisis Pius XI observed that: "… it is obvious that not only is wealth concentrated in our times but an immense power and despotic economic dictatorship is consolidated in the hands of a few, who often are not owners but only the trustees and managing directors of invested funds which they administer according to their own arbitrary will and pleasure" (Quadragesimo Anno, n.105). He also noted that free competition had destroyed itself by relying on profit as the only criterion. There are economic, juridical and cultural dimensions of the present crisis. To engage in financial activity cannot be reduced to making easy profits, but also must include the promotion of the common good among those who lend, those who borrow, and those who work. The lack of an ethical base has brought the crisis to low, middle and high income countries alike. The Delegation of the Holy See, Mr. President, calls for renewed "attention to the need for an ethical approach to the creation of positive partnerships between markets, civil society and States." (Pope Benedict XVI).

3. The negative consequences, however, exert a more dramatic impact on the developing world and on the most vulnerable groups in all societies. In a recent document, the World Bank estimates that, in 2009, the current global economic crisis could push an additional 53 million people below the threshold of $2 a day. This figure is in addition to the 130 million people pushed into poverty in 2008 by the increase in food and energy prices. Such trends seriously threaten the achievement of the fight against poverty in the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Evidence indicates that children, in particular, will suffer the most from economic hardship, and a strong increase in the infant mortality rate in poor countries is forecasted for 2009.

4. It is well known that low-income countries are heavily dependent upon two financing flows: foreign aid and migrant remittances. Both flows are expected to decline significantly over the next months, due to the worsening of the economic crisis. Despite the official reaffirmation of commitment by donors to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) in accord with the Gleneagles agreement, currently most donors are not on track to meet their target for significant scale-up of ODA by 2010. Moreover, the most recent figures reveal a slowing down of aid flows. This results in worry that a possible direct effect of the global economic crisis will be a major reduction of aid to the poor countries. On the other hand, remittances from migrant workers already have been reduced significantly. This threatens the economic survival of entire families who derive a consistent share of their income from the transfer of funds by relatives working overseas.

5. The Delegation of the Holy See, Mr. President, would like to focus on a specific case in this crisis: its impact on the human rights of children, which exemplifies, as well, what is symptomatic of the destructive impact on all other social and economic rights. At present some important rights of poor people are heavily dependent on official aid flows and on workers’ remittances. These include the right to health, education, and food. In several poor countries, in fact, educational, health and nutritional programs are implemented with the help of aid flows from official donors. Should the economic crisis reduce this assistance, the successful completion of these programs could be threatened. By the same token, in many poor regions, entire families can afford to have their children educated and decently nourished due to remittances received from migrants. If the reduction of both aid and remittances continue, it will deprive children of the right to be educated creating a double negative consequence. Not only will we prevent children from the full exercise of their talent that, in turn, could be put to use for the common good, but also the preconditions will be established for long-range economic hardship. Lower educational investment today, in fact, will be translated into lower future growth. At the same time, poor nutrition among children significantly worsens life expectancy by increasing both child and adult mortality rates. The negative economic consequences of this go beyond the personal dimension and affect entire societies.

6. Mr. President, let me mention another consequence of the global economic crisis that could be particularly relevant for the mandate of the United Nations. All too often, periods of severe economic hardship have been characterized by the rise in power of governments with dubious commitments to democracy. The Holy See prays that such consequences will be avoided in the present crisis, since they would result in a serious threat for the diffusion of basic human rights for which this institution has so tenaciously struggled.

7. The last fifty years have witnessed some great achievements in poverty reduction. Mr. President, these achievements are at risk, and a coherent approach is required to preserve them through a renewed sense of solidarity, especially for the segments of population and for the countries more affected by the crisis. Old and recent mistakes will be repeated, however, if concerted international action is not undertaken to promote and protect all human rights and if direct financial and economic activities are not placed on an ethical road that can prioritize persons, their productivity and their rights over the greed that can result from a fixation on profit alone.


Papal Address to Agricultural Development Fund
"Theirs Is a Work Which Carries With It a Dignity All Its Own"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2009 - Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave today to the members of the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development on the occasion of celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of its establishment.

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Mr President of the Governing Council,

Governors, Permanent Representatives of the Member States,

Officials of the IFAD,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet all of you at the conclusion of the celebrations marking the Thirtieth Anniversary of the establishment of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. I thank the outgoing President, Mr Lennart Bge, for his kind words and I offer congratulations and good wishes to Mr Kanayo Nwanze on his election to this high office. I thank all of you for coming here today and I assure you of my prayers for the important work that you do to promote rural development. Your work is particularly crucial at the present time in view of the damaging effect on food security of the current instability in the prices of agricultural products. This requires new and far-sighted strategies for the fight against rural poverty and the promotion of rural development. As you know, the Holy See fully shares your commitment to overcome poverty and hunger, and to come to the aid of the world's poorest peoples. I pray that IFAD's anniversary celebration will provide you with an incentive to pursue these worthy goals with renewed energy and determination in the years ahead.

Since its earliest days, the International Fund has achieved an exemplary form of cooperation and coresponsibility between nations at different stages of development. When wealthy countries and developing nations come together to make joint decisions and to determine specific criteria for each country's budgetary contribution to the Fund, it can truly be said that the various Member States come together as equals, expressing their solidarity with one another and their shared commitment to eradicate poverty and hunger. In an increasingly interdependent world, joint decision-making processes of this kind are essential if international affairs are to be conducted with equity and foresight.

Equally commendable is the emphasis placed by IFAD on promoting employment opportunities within rural communities, with a view to enabling them, in the long term, to become independent of outside aid. Assistance given to local producers serves to build up the economy and contributes to the overall development of the nation concerned. In this sense the "rural credit" projects, designed to assist smallholder farmers and agricultural workers with no land of their own, can boost the wider economy and provide greater food security for all. These projects also help indigenous communities to flourish on their own soil, and to live in harmony with their traditional culture, instead of being forced to uproot themselves in order to seek employment in overcrowded cities, teeming with social problems, where they often have to endure squalid living conditions.

This approach has the particular merit of restoring the agricultural sector to its rightful place within the economy and the social fabric of developing nations. Here a valuable contribution can be made by Non-Governmental Organizations, some of which have close links with the Catholic Church and are committed to the application of her social teaching. The principle of subsidiarity requires that each group within society be free to make its proper contribution to the good of the whole. All too often, agricultural workers in developing nations are denied that opportunity, when their labour is greedily exploited, and their produce is diverted to distant markets, with little or no resulting benefit for the local community itself.

Almost fifty years ago, my predecessor Blessed Pope John XXIII had this to say about the task of tilling the soil: "Those who live on the land can hardly fail to appreciate the nobility of the work they are called upon to do. They are living in close harmony with Nature - the majestic temple of Creation ... Theirs is a work which carries with it a dignity all its own" (Mater et Magistra, 130-131). All human labour is a participation in the creative providence of Almighty God, but agricultural labour is so in a pre-eminent way. A truly humane society will always know how to appreciate and reward appropriately the contribution made by the agricultural sector. If properly supported and equipped, it has the potential to lift a nation out of poverty and to lay the foundations for increasing prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as we give thanks for the achievements of the past thirty years, there is a need for renewed determination to act in harmony and solidarity with all the different elements of the human family in order to ensure equitable access to the earth's resources now and in the future. The motivation to do this comes from love: love for the poor, love that cannot tolerate injustice or deprivation, love that refuses to rest until poverty and hunger are banished from our midst. The goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, as well as promoting food security and rural development, far from being over-ambitious or unrealistic, become, in this context, imperatives binding upon the whole international community. It is my fervent prayer that the activities of such organizations as yours will continue to make a significant contribution to the attainment of these goals. In thanking you and encouraging you to persevere in the good work that you do, I commend you to the constant care of our loving Father, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is therein. May God bless all of you!

Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Holy See Address on Social Development
"Giving People the Concrete Possibility to Shape Their Own Lives"

NEW YORK, FEB. 5, 2009 - Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered today in an address to the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

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Madame Chair,

At the very outset, my delegation would like to thank the Secretary-General for his insightful report on Promoting social integration inasmuch as it clearly sets the meaning and scope of this agenda item toward social cohesion. While in a socially integrated society there is a sense of belonging, “in a socially cohesive society there is also a clear consensus on what creates a social compact with acknowledged rights and responsibilities of all citizens”.

Social cohesion, as an expression of social justice, is overall a condition that must be assured to all persons by reason of their lofty dignity. Beyond that it is also an indispensable condition to meet the global crises that confront humanity today.

In its detailed analysis of the regional perspectives, the report of the Secretary-General states that the absence of social integration, resulting in social exclusion, is pervasive in developing and developed regions alike and has common causes, namely poverty, inequality and discrimination at all levels.

My delegation is particularly pleased to note that the recommended strategies aimed at promoting social integration under the current circumstances stem from the very framework for developing, shaping and implementing socially inclusive policies provided by the World Summit for Social Development of 1995. This framework is marked by the conviction that the logic of solidarity and subsidiarity is the most apt and instrumental to overcome poverty and ensure the participation of every person and social group at the social, economic, civil and cultural levels.

A broad consensus around the commitment to promote development has been revealed in this last decade in the fight against poverty and in fostering the inclusion and the participation of all persons and social groups. This consensus is also formalized in the Millennium Declaration of the year 2000. The development goals enshrined therein are defined in reference to precise indicators and targets. The effort to constantly monitor the achievement of the targets is significant, in order to make living conditions more humane for all. Still, the preoccupation to obtain quantitative or measurable results must not distract our attention and our policies from achieving an integral development.

Monitoring the MDGs shows that it is relatively easy to attain the objectives pursued through measures of a technical nature that require, above all, material resources and organization. However, the pursuit of the goals and, in the end, of development and social cohesion requires not only financial aid, but the effective involvement of people.

The ultimate purpose and content of development programs is giving people the concrete possibility to shape their own lives and be protagonists of development. What seems to be missing in the fight against poverty, inequality and discrimination, are not primarily financial assistance, or the economic and juridical cooperation which are equally essential, but rather, people and relational networks capable of sharing life with those in situations of poverty and exclusion, individuals capable of presence and action, whose enterprise is recognized by local, national and global institutions.

This is similarly expressed by Pope Benedict XVI, who, on the World Day of Peace, stated that “the problems of development, aid and international cooperation are sometimes addressed without any real attention to the human element, but as merely technical questions -- limited, that is, to establishing structures, setting up trade agreements, and allocating funding impersonally. What the fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families and communities on journeys of authentic human development”.

The needs of families, women, youth, the uneducated and unemployed, the indigenous, the elderly, migrants and all other groups more vulnerable to social exclusion must be addressed through the appropriate legal, social and institutional structures. Yet, through living with and sharing the experiences of those who have been excluded by society we can find means for more fully integrating them into the community, and, more importantly, affirming their dignity and worth so that they can truly become protagonists for their own development.

The Holy See and the various institutions of the Church remain committed to fulfilling this obligation. Through programs, agencies and organizations in every continent, those whom many in society have forgotten are sought out and brought into mainstream society. Through such common effort the lessons learned from those who are marginalized reinforce the truth that poverty eradication, full employment and social integration will be achieved when clarity of purpose is matched by a commitment of spirit.

Thank you, Madame Chair.


Holy See on Protecting Civilians During War
"Political and Military Designs Supersede Basic Respect"

NEW YORK, JAN. 15, 2009 - Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered Wednesday at the U.N. Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.

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Mr. President,

The Security Council has been dealing with the topic of the protection of civilians in armed conflicts for more than ten years. Yet civilian security during conflict is becoming more and more critical, if not at times dramatic, as we have been witnessing in these past months, weeks and days in the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few.

The year 2009 marks, among other things, the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. Inasmuch as the protection of civilians stems from the norms set out in these Conventions and subsequent Protocols, my delegation trusts that this new year will also provide an occasion for assessment of the parties' commitment to ensure protection of civilians through greater respect for the rules of international humanitarian law.

The 2003 update of the aide-memoire to the Ten-Point Platform on the Protection of Civilians is an important tool for clarifying responsibilities, enhancing cooperation, facilitating implementation and further strengthening coordination within the United Nations system and remains today more than ever an indispensable road map to bring protection to civilians entrapped in armed conflicts. Its 10 action points are a challenge to the international community and especially to the Security Council requesting a prompt, decisive and action-efficient answer. While all of the points are important, humanitarian access, special protection of children and women and disarmament continue to be three vital pillars for providing greater protection to civilians.

The overwhelming mistreatment of civilians in too many parts of the world does not seem to be just a side effect of war. We continue to see civilians deliberately targeted as a means for achieving political or military gains.  In the past few days we have witnessed a practical failure, from every side, to respect the distinction of civilians from military targets. It is sadly clear that political and military designs supersede basic respect for the dignity and rights of persons and communities, when methods or armaments are used without taking all reasonable measures to avoid civilians; when women and children are used as a shield for combatants; when humanitarian access is denied in the Gaza Strip; when people are displaced and villages destroyed in Darfur and when we see sexual violence devastating the lives of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In such a context, protection of civilians requires not only a renewed commitment to humanitarian law, but demands first and foremost good political will and action. Protection of civilians must be based on a widespread responsible exercise of leadership. This requires leaders to exercise the right to defend their own citizens or the right to self-determination by resorting only to legitimate means; and it requires them to fully recognize their responsibility toward the international community and respect other States and communities' right to exist and coexist in peace. The broad spectrum of mechanisms the UN is putting in place to ensure the protection of civilians will be successful if, at the very least, it is able to foster a culture of responsible exercise of leadership among its members and holds them and every party in a conflict accountable to such a responsibility towards individuals and communities.

The increasing burden of war casualties and consequences imposed on civilians comes also from the massive production, continued innovation and sophistication of armaments. The ever higher quality and availability of small arms and light weapons, as well as anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, tragically make the killing of human beings that much easier and more efficient.  In this context, my delegation fully supports and encourages the objectives of the recent General Assembly resolution Towards an Arms Trade Treaty, which lays down the first important step toward a legally binding instrument on arms trade and transfers. Likewise, my delegation welcomes the adoption of the Cluster Munitions Convention and encourages countries to ratify this treaty as a matter of priority and a sign of their commitment to addressing civilian casualties.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See on Israeli-Gaza Conflict
"Violence Will Not Lead to Peace and Justice"

GENEVA, Switzerland, JAN. 12, 2009 - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered last Friday regarding the situation of the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

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Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See would like to express its solidarity with both the people in Gaza, who are dying and suffering because of the ongoing military assault by the Israeli Defense Forces, and the people in Sderot, Ashkelon and other Israeli cities who are living under the constant terror of rocket attacks launched by Palestinian militants from within the Gaza Strip, which have caused casualties and wounded a number of people.

The patriarchs and heads of churches of Jerusalem marked last Sunday as a day of prayer with the intention to put an end to the conflict in Gaza and to restore peace and justice in the Holy Land. It is their conviction that the continuation of bloodshed and violence will not lead to peace and justice but breed more hatred and hostility and thus a continued confrontation between the two peoples. These religious leaders call upon both parties to return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts, which only bring destruction and tragedy. They urge them instead to work to resolve their differences through peaceful and nonviolent means.

The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, underlined last Sunday that the refusal of dialogue between the parties has led to unspeakable suffering for the population in Gaza, victims of hatred and war.

Mr. President, it is evident that the warring parties are not able to exit from this vicious circle of violence without the help of the international community that should therefore fulfill its responsibilities, intervene actively to stop the bloodshed, provide access for emergency humanitarian assistance, and end all forms of confrontation. At the same time, the international community should remain engaged in removing the root causes of the conflict that can only be resolved within the framework of a lasting solution of the greater Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the international resolutions adopted during the years.

May I conclude with the words of Pope Benedict XVI pronounced yesterday during the annual meeting with diplomats accredited to the Holy See: "Once again I would repeat that military options are no solution and that violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned. I express my hope that, with the decisive commitment of the international community, the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip will be re-established -- an indispensable condition for restoring acceptable living conditions to the population -- and that negotiations for peace will resume, with the rejection of hatred, acts of provocation and the use of arms."

Thank you Mr. President


Holy See on UN Declaration on Homosexuality
"Challenges Existing Human Rights Norms"

NEW YORK, DEC. 18, 2008 - Here is the statement the Holy See Mission to the United Nations delivered today before the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly on human rights questions, in particular on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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The Holy See appreciates the attempts made in the Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity --presented at the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2008 -- to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urge States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them.

At the same time, the Holy See notes that the wording of this Declaration goes well beyond the abovementioned and shared intent.

In particular, the categories "sexual orientation" and "gender identity", used in the text, find no recognition or clear and agreed definition in international law. If they had to be taken into consideration in the proclaiming and implementing of fundamental rights, these would create serious uncertainty in the law as well as undermine the ability of States to enter into and enforce new and existing human rights conventions and standards.

Despite the Declaration's rightful condemnation of and protection from all forms of violence against homosexual persons, the document, when considered in its entirety, goes beyond this goal and instead gives rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing human rights norms.

The Holy See continues to advocate that every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and urges States to do away with criminal penalties against them.

18 December 2008


Archbishop Tomasi on UN Human Rights Declaration
"Memorable Moment in the History of Human Coexistence"

GENEVA, Switzerland, DEC. 17, 2008 - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered last Friday in an address commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Mr. President,

1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) is a memorable moment in the history of human coexistence and a great expression of a universal juridical civilization founded on human dignity and oriented toward peace. The Delegation of the Holy See fully supports the decision of Human Rights Council to specially observe the 60th anniversary of this Declaration. After the horrors of World War II, the Declaration solemnly reaffirmed the supreme value of the human dignity of every person and people, without any distinction based on sex, social condition, ethnicity, culture, or political, religious or philosophical convictions. With this document, human dignity finally is recognized as the essential value on which rests an international order that is truly peaceful and sustainable.

The UDHR proclaims: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." (art. 1) The Holy See celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR, first, by recalling the great sense of unity, solidarity and responsibility that led the United Nations to proclaim universal human rights as a response to all persons and peoples weighed down by the violation of their dignity, a task that even today challenges us. Then, it has promoted events, educational programs, assistance initiatives worldwide, in particular for children, women and vulnerable groups, so that God, as His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI said on December 10, 2008, "may allow us to build a world where every human being will feel accepted in his/her full dignity, and where relations among persons and among peoples are based on respect, dialogue and solidarity." Thirdly, it has highlighted once more the fact that human rights are at risk if not rooted on the ethical foundation of our common humanity as created by God who has given everyone the gifts of intelligence and freedom.

2. Human rights have an indispensable social role. They remain "the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security." For the protection of individuals and society, the Holy See incessantly has reaffirmed the centrality of human rights and the role of the United Nations Organization in upholding this common patrimony of the human family. Human freedom and creativity have given rise to different models of political and economic organization in the context of different cultures and historical experiences. "But it is one thing to affirm a legitimate pluralism of "forms of freedom", and another to deny any universality or intelligibility to the nature of man or to the human experience." A healthy realism, therefore, is the foundation of human rights, that is, the acknowledgement of what is real and inscribed in the human person and in creation. When a breach is caused between what is claimed and what is real through the search of so-called 'new' human rights, a risk emerges to reinterpret the accepted human rights vocabulary to promote mere desires and measures that, in turn, become a source of discrimination and injustice and the fruit of self-serving ideologies. By speaking of the right to life, of respect for the family, of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, of freedom of religion and conscience, of the limits of the authority of the State before fundamental values and rights, nothing new or revolutionary is said and both, the letter and the spirit of the Declaration are upheld, and coherence with the nature of things and the common good of society is preserved.

3. This anniversary of the Declaration leads us also to reflect on its implementation. In a world of too many hungry people, too many violent conflicts, too many persons persecuted for their beliefs, there remains a long road to walk and the duty to eliminate every discrimination so that all persons can enjoy their inherent equal dignity. In pursuing this goal, there are reasons for hope in the developments that have been generated by the UDHR. The family, "the natural and fundamental group unit of society" (art.16,3), can be the first 'agency' of protection and promotion of human dignity and fundamental rights. This is in line with the UDHR as well as with the Holy See's Charter of the Rights of the Family, whose 25th anniversary is celebrated this year. The United Nations Organization and its specialized Agencies, this Council in particular, are called to faithfully translate the principles of the UDHR into action by supporting States in the adoption of effective policies truly focused on the rights and sense of responsibility of everyone. International pacts and regional agreements derived from the UDHR coalesce into a body of international law that serve as necessary reference.

4. In conclusion, Mr. President, every human being "is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms" set forth in the UDHR can be fully realized. (art.28) Every human being has the right to an integral development and "the sacred right" to live in peace. On such premises, human rights are not just entitlement to privileges. They are rather the expression and the fruit of what is noblest in the human spirit: dignity, aspiration to freedom and justice, search for what is good, and the practice of solidarity. In the light of the tragic experiences of the past and of today, the human family can unite around these values and essential principles, as a duty toward the weakest and needier and toward future generations.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See Statement on Situation in Congo
"International Community Needs to Act Swiftly"

GENEVA, DEC. 11, 2008 - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered Nov. 28 to the eighth special session of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Mr. President,

The daily reports on human suffering in the North Kivu district of the Democratic Republic of Congo are deeply troubling to the Delegation of the Holy See. Death, rape, lootings, forced recruitment and displacement of civilian population have become a daily reality in that country. The international community cannot stand by idle and needs to speak out clearly. In fact, with a view on the growing consensus behind the responsibility to protect, it is of utmost importance for the international community to restore the rule of law and to search for the common good.

The Holy See condemns the large-scale occurrence of serious violations of human rights and of humanitarian law. It deplores the recruitment of children and adolescents as soldiers. It is alarmed by the many cases of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, including the frequent occurrence of sexual violence against women and girls by all parties to the conflict. The international community needs to act swiftly in the face of these grave infringements of human rights.

Moreover the Holy See denounces the illicit trade of weapons, and in particular of small arms and light weapons in the DRC. They increase the intensity of violence and threaten the life and the integrity of a unacceptable number of innocent people.

The Congolese Bishops issued a Statement saying that t