Cardinal Sodano Encourages U.N. Reform

Addresses General Assembly

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 18, 2005 ( The United Nations has made positive contributions at the service of peace and humanity, but needs reform, says the Vatican secretary of state.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on Friday, giving the Vatican’s seal of approval to U.N. reform and the creation of a Peace-building Commission.

“Time has taken its toll upon this agency, as upon every human undertaking,” the cardinal said in his address delivered in French. “It is now widely believed that the United Nations needs to be renewed, in response to the great challenges of the present day.”

“It is true that the United Nations is not a super-government. Rather, it is the result of the political will of individual member countries.”

Cardinal Sodano made a plea to all those present, on behalf of “ordinary men and women, the many millions who constitute the ‘we the people’ of the U.N. Charter. … Give us a modern institution, capable of taking resolutions and then enforcing them.”

“This is an insistent appeal issued to us by men and women who are disheartened by promises made and not kept, resolutions adopted and not enforced,” said the 77-year-old cardinal. “Their cry must instill in us the determination necessary to undertake an institutional reform of the United Nations, a reform that is attentive to the real demands of our peoples rather than to the balance of power.”


Along with the idea of U.N. reform, Cardinal Sodano insisted in offering the “necessary international juridical instruments for disarmament and the control of arms, for the fight against terrorism and international crime and for effective cooperation between the United Nations and regional agencies, in order to resolve situations of conflict.”

In this sense, he said, the Holy See “is in favor of the Peace-building Commission, intended to design and implement an ambitious strategy to overcome those elements of ethnic rivalry which give rise to conflicts and which could reignite them in the future.”

“The tragedies that have occurred in the Balkans, in the Middle East and in Africa should cause us to reflect,” Cardinal Sodano said. “What is important now is the commitment we make to foster a culture of conflict prevention, but we must also explore thoroughly the problem of the use of force to disarm the aggressor.”

The Vatican secretary of state continued: “The ‘responsibility to protect’ arises from a very important political and juridical concept, developed progressively in the 60 years of the United Nation’s existence.

“In essence, it refers to the pre-eminent dignity of every single man and woman over the state and over every ideological system.”

Duty to protect

“Before this reform of the United Nations,” said the cardinal, “the Holy See asks that the states have the courage to continue their discussions on the application and practical consequences of the ‘responsibility to protect.'”

This obligation, he stated, should be exercised “through the Security Council and in accordance with the indications given in Chapter VII of the U.N. Statute,” before those “situations in which national authorities either cannot or will not protect their own populations, in the face of internal or external threats.”

This is what Pope John Paul II had called “humanitarian intervention.”

The international community listened closely to Cardinal Sodano’s address, looking for diplomatic continuity between the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Sodano said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa last week that in the Holy See there is, in questions of this nature, “the beautiful tradition of continuity.”

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