Holy See Gains More Rights as Observer at U.N.

Participation in Sessions and Decisions to Be Easier

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NEW YORK, JULY 2, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution to reinforce the role and privileges of the Holy See within the organization, maintaining its status of “permanent observer.”

The body approved the resolution without a vote Thursday. The measure recognizes the Holy See’s right to participate in a more direct manner in U.N. sessions and decisions, as one more member, with no right to vote, as suggested by the Vatican in the writing of the resolution.

“These rights had become a common practice for a long time, but were never registered in writing,” said the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore.

“The fact that they have now been recognized in writing is an important acknowledgment of the value and work of the Holy See within the organization,” he told the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

The Holy See, which has had a permanent observer at the United Nations for 40 years, “will be able to participate directly in any debate of the Assembly, without having to wait for the approval of regional groups, and will have the right to reply in debates in which it is challenged directly or indirectly,” the nuncio added.

The Vatican will be able to co-sponsor drafts of resolutions or decisions affecting it, as well as publish statements and receive communications from official channels through the U.N. secretary-general.

“It is a fundamental step that does not close any path for the future,” Archbishop Megliore said. “The Holy See has the requirements defined by the U.N. statute to be a member state and, if in the future it wished to be so, this resolution would not impede it from requesting it.”

In the discussion and approval of the resolution, Italy carried out the role of facilitator, working to explain to the member states the sense of the proposal.

The resolution was necessary to clarify the role of a permanent observer since the Holy See is now the only state with this status. Switzerland has become a member state of the United Nations.

Avvenire said: “The approval of the resolution recognizes at the same time the role of moral guide which the Holy See has had in recent years on the international scene, a period in which it has taken determined positions in favor of peace and dialogue between civilizations and cultures.”

The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 174 countries. It also has representations in U.N. institutions and in other international organizations.

See www.holyseemission.org.

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