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General Debate of the 64th Session (2009)

Holy See
H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Chairman of the Delegation

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29 September 2009

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Statement summary

CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, began by noting that the deliberations of the preceding session of the Assembly had been dominated by preoccupation with the global financial crisis.  It was only fitting that this year, delegations have been asked to focus on effective responses to global crises:  multilateralism and dialogue among civilizations.  He invoked the preamble of the United Nations Charter 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”.

He mentioned the intertwining of various world crises in the last months and said that they provoked discussion on presuppositions of thought and principles of individual, social and international behaviour, which extended well beyond the financial field.  He added that “high human and spiritual values serve to renovate the international order from within, where the real crisis lies”.  The theme of peace and development coincided with the inclusion of all peoples in the human family.

He mentioned a recent appeal by Pope Benedict XVI, who had said that, in the face of unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there was a strongly felt need, even in the middle of a global recession, for an urgent reform of the United Nations, as well as economic institutions and global finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.  Such reform was urgent, in order to find innovative ways to implement the principle of the “responsibility to protect” and give poorer nations an effective voice.  The more interdependent the world became, the greater the need for the United Nations.

“We must always remember that true development involves an integral respect for human life,” he said.  Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, development aid was tied to recipient countries’ willingness to adopt programmes, which discouraged the demographic growth of certain populations by methods and practices disrespectful of human dignity and rights.  In that regard, it was 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”.

Every human being had a right to good governance, and should be guaranteed a free and dignified life, he said, adding that dignity should include personal responsibility and respect for the dignity of others.  At the origin of the current global crises is the pretence of States and individual persons that only they have rights and they are reluctant 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 […].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 principle of the responsibility to protect was formulated at the 2005 World Summit and received the unanimous consensus of all United Nations Member States, he said.  That principle “becomes a touchstone” of principles of truth in international relations and global governance.  He said that the recognition of the dignity of every man and woman ensured that Governments always undertook with every means to prevent and combat crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing and any other crimes against humanity.  Thus, recognizing their interconnected responsibility to protect, States would realize the importance of accepting the collaboration of the international community, as a means of fulfilling their role of providing responsible sovereignty.

He acknowledged the work of peacekeepers and the role they played in stabilizing innumerable local conflicts and making reconstruction possible.  Nevertheless, he pointed out that the United Nations had not been able to resolve many conflicts, and in many of those, serious crimes against humanity had occurred.  That was why acceptance of the principle of the responsibility to protect, and of the underlying truths, which guide responsible sovereignty, could be the catalyst for the reform of the Security Council.  In that context, he noted the Honduran people and their continued suffering from the too-long political upheaval.  He said that the Holy See urged concerned parties to find a prompt solution.

He ended with the issue of climate change, saying that “the protection of the environment continued to be at the forefront of all multilateral activities because it involved in cohesive form the destiny of all the nations and the future of every individual man and woman”.  He added that the recognition of the double truth of interdependence and personal dignity also required that environmental issues be taken as a moral imperative and translated into legal rules capable of protecting the planet.

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Source: GA/10866