Holy See's Address at U.N. on Development

“The Entire System of Solidarity Needs to Be Reshaped”

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NEW YORK, FEB. 24, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address given by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, on Tuesday. It dealt with the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and on the U.N. Millennium Project 2005 report.

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Mr. President,

The Report on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Practical Plan to Achieve the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] complement each other, in that they caution us not to frame developmental policies shortsightedly or just from the perspective of security, at the expense of more wide ranging soft threats and silent emergencies.

As for the Practical Plan itself, it has a great deal to recommend it and represents much hard work and dedication to the world’s poor, something which I am very happy to salute.

Of the 10 key recommendations, the Holy See would like to express its particular support for key recommendation No. 7, that ODA [official development assistance] should be based on actual needs, rather than on assigned targets. The recent impetus given to the long-agreed allocation of 0.7% of GNP to development is very encouraging. It is much to be hoped that genuinely new money will be directed to development as a result.

Many experts concur that extreme poverty and hunger derive in great part from the inequality in the distribution of income on the one hand and in conspicuous overconsumption on the other. Uncertainty is felt in many quarters about the viability of current development models. The technical solutions underpinning these models, instead of stimulating growth, have sometimes resulted in increased poverty and inequality. In spite of this, many proposed solutions still tend to be highly technocratic.

For this reason, my delegation strongly believes that the entire system of solidarity needs to be reshaped; ODA must be increased, not just spent better; and above all, policies to eradicate poverty must continue to concentrate not only on “what” or “how,” but firstly on “who.” A clear idea of who the poor are, followed by practical, direct, personal assistance to them through people-centered policies must always be borne in mind. Only such a focus will promote the poor as real people, because it is a focus based upon the dignity of every man, woman and child, rather than upon policies that risk overlooking their worth as persons.

The Holy See is pleased to align itself with delegations which support a social policy which includes distributive justice. Such policies must be made an integral part of the debate on development, so that they become the basic yardstick for measuring the quality and pace of development.

As I said, Mr. President, it is more about “who” than “what.” The first “who” are the poor themselves: they have the right to assistance as well as a responsibility to themselves. The second “who” is all who bear responsibility for the situation of increased poverty and inequality and for its eventual solution. The United Nations, which should be inspired by the universal common good, must not be afraid to conduct such a frank discussion, not so much to apportion blame as to resolve the problem in justice at its most crucial point.

For the Practical Plan to be successful, we believe that emphasis must continue to be placed on investments to empower poor people, especially women, in ways that respect the individual’s will and do not lead to unacceptable conditions being placed on the liberty of those to whom assistance is offered. Thus poor people themselves will be served, rather than other issues such as unacceptable ways of controlling the world’s population. A wise and humane population policy will respect the people it is meant to serve, for the betterment of humanity. It will also take account of the actual and projected development of the human race.

To sum up, Mr. President, we are convinced that the MDGs — and, for that matter, the commitments made at Copenhagen — can only be achieved if poverty eradication policies are aimed squarely at the poor as persons of equal worth; if serious progress is made in good governance and combating corruption; if financial and trade reform is adequately introduced to make markets work in favor of developing countries; if the long-standing 0.7% [of] GNP pledges are truly honored in justice and solidarity; and if debt is canceled in all the applicable cases.

Thank you, Mr. President

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