GENEVA, Switzerland, SEPT. 27, 2009 ( The centrality of the human person, an appropriate environment, justice and equality are the fundamental elements for promoting authentic integral development, according to the Holy See.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, affirmed this in his Sept. 22 address to the 12th session of the Human Rights Council.

The prelate first noted that the present financial crisis “shows national economies' level of global interdependence" and the danger of “compromising the efforts of the international community to reach the millennium development goals and many countries' other development objectives."

In this context Archbishop Tomasi stressed the importance of creating a list of criteria for the right to development and of operative secondary criteria that are based on three components: “development centered on the human person, an environment that is hospitable to him [and] justice and equality in the social sphere.”

The objective, in fact, is “an integral development centered on the human being that implies the indivisibility and the interdependence of all human rights, as well as the relevance not only of the results of development, but also of the process of realizing development and its sustainability,” without forgetting “the ethical and spiritual dimensions of the person," he said.

According to the archbishop, a general agreement on these criteria could represent “a fundamental step” in the direction of “a systematic consideration of the human person, of his rights and his dignity in the elaboration of a politics of development at every level.”

In the process of development, the representative of the Holy See continued, the human person is not only the recipient of help, but also “the true protagonist.”

States, for their part, have the duty to create, “individually and collectively,” an environment adapted to the realization of development, Archbishop Tomasi affirmed. Because of this, states “are called to remove the obstacles to development that are caused by violations of human rights” just as the international community must “support the process of development, above all in poor countries.”

Subsidiarity and solidarity

In this perspective, Archbishop Tomasi explained, a relevant role is assumed by the principle of subsidiarity, which should be considered as the compliment to solidarity.

If in fact solidarity refers to the “mobilization of financial and human resources for development,” he said, subsidiarity “helps to identify the most appropriate level for decision making and intervention.”

“The principle of subsidiarity can therefore be considered a transversal criterion for the creation of an environment that promotes the right to development,” the prelate said, emphasizing how this concept “permits the participation of beneficiaries of aid in the process of development through the responsible use of their freedom and their talents.”

Archbishop Tomasi then noted how the Holy See’s delegation supports the adoption of criteria of social justice and equality “which implicate moral imperatives that move [us] to action in defense of human rights and for the equal distribution of the benefits of development."

In respect to these rights he mentioned access to food, shelter, education, medical assistance and employment.

With this purpose he called for the promotion of action to “identify operative criteria for the right to development and to engage in dialogue regarding the reduction of poverty, debt remission [and] the transfer of technologies.”

“We believe," the archbishop concluded, "that this work is laying a foundation that will allow states and the international community to work to concretely reduce economic and social disparities that are too often caused by violations of human dignity and human rights."