INTERVENTION OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE TWENTY-FIFTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS
NEW YORK, 8.JUNE 2001
Five years ago this month, the United Nations met in Istanbul for the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements. The Holy See recognized the importance of that meeting, especially regarding the realization of the right to adequate shelter for all persons and their families, along with a better understanding of the inseparable connection between sustainable development and human settlements development.
With the current meeting, we bring to a close the five-year review cycle
of those United Nations Conferences and Summits
which have had such a profound effect on our understanding of sustainable human development, not only on the work of this Organization but on the world community.
What have we learned? And what will be the legacy that this and all of those meetings will leave to the United Nations?
To answer those questions, we must turn to the very first principle of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development, that has guided our work for so many years and which states emphatically that: "Human beings are at the centre of our concerns for sustainable development". In fact, the fundamental global community is the human family itself.
We are reminded that human beings, every woman, man and child, living today and who will be born tomorrow, who constitute the family, are and must always be considered the subject of our work. Indeed, it is in the central interest and well-being of the family, through the establishment of adequate shelter for all, that we have gathered to discuss the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. Again, it is toward the family that our attention is focused; from families living in the largest cities and to those in the most remote hamlet or village, in every place that they call `home'.
The Holy See welcomes the adoption of the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium during this Special Session of the General Assembly. In this Declaration, Representatives will reaffirm their commitment to recognize the important role of the family, as the basic unit of society, to eradicate poverty, safeguard the environment, respect human dignity and promote and protect human rights.
However, the success of this Special Session can not overshadow the fact that so many people remain homeless or, as victims of armed conflict, natural disaster or economic turmoil, have been forced from their homes, their livelihoods and in many cases separated from their families. So many people live in absolute poverty and without access to basic social services such as clean water, safe sanitation, education, health care and adequate nutrition, those things that are necessary for life and the realization of human potential.
This Special Session must spark a renewal of the world's commitment to a solidarity which recognizes the benefits that come from a realization of the common good and a concern for the dignity of each member of the human family.
The United Nations has come a long way since Vancouver. And regarding so many issues, including human settlements development, there is still much to accomplish. Let us hope that a good and promising beginning will come as a result of the work of this Special Session.
Thank you Mr. President