“Short-term economic and political gain cannot come at the expense of integral human development,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, on October 3, 2017 in New York. His comments came during the Second Committee General Debate of the UN General Assembly. The Second Committee is concerned in general with economic and financial questions.
“Around the world, political, cultural and social institutions are increasingly confronted with the effects of a global economic system that often fails to recognize the centrality of the human person in its efforts,” Archbishop Auza stated. He explained that this can result in “the desperation of people who risk their lives in search of a better future.”
He continued by noting “the paradox of the homeless squatting under the shadows of glitzy skyscrapers in our world’s wealthiest cities”. And he expressed concern for the gap that continues to widen between the “haves and have-nots”.
Archbishop Auza concluded by reminding the UN audience: “Through renewed commitment to integral human development, not only can we make greater progress on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; we can also begin to lay the foundations for our discussions on the Global Compacts on safe, orderly and regular Migration and on Refugees.”
Archbishop Auza’s Address Follows:
Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Seventy-second Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Second Committee General Debate
New York, 3 October 2017
At the outset, my delegation extends its congratulations to you and the bureau for your election and looks forward to a productive discussion on the importance of addressing poverty around the world.
Last year provided a renewed demonstration of the critical importance of revitalizing the work of this Committee and the work of the United Nations system as a whole in the various areas of global development. Around the world, political, cultural and social institutions are increasingly confronted with the effects of a global economic system that often fails to recognize the centrality of the human person in its efforts.
The consequences of such failures can be seen in the desperation of people who risk their lives in search of a better future; in the paradox of the homeless squatting under the shadows of glitzy skyscrapers in our world’s wealthiest cities; in the continuously widening gap between the haves and the have-nots; in the struggle among the deprived sections of the population for the most basic services; and in the increasing politicization of and polarization on almost everything, including helping the most helpless and manifesting solidarity to the most desperate. During his Address at the Opening of the General Debate of the Seventy-Second Session of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General so aptly distilled in these few words the world’s situation: “Our world is in trouble. People are hurting and angry. They see insecurity rising, inequality growing, conflict spreading and climate changing.” This is a reminder that, while the Sustainable Development Goals provided a target to guide our shared efforts, without a renewed vision and foundation for global development we risk exacerbating rather than addressing the increasing discontent around the world. Central to this renewed vision is the need for a recommitment by political, economic and civil society leaders to build global and local communities with the human person at its heart. In this regard, the overall theme of the Seventy-Second Session of the General Assembly, “Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life on a sustainable planet,” should lead us to reaffirm with greater conviction the centrality of the human person, and thus refocus all our efforts to help everyone without exception to live a peaceful, decent and healthy life in our common home.
A “person-centered approach” is fundamental because, as Pope Francis reminds us, “person means relation, not individualism; it affirms inclusion not exclusion; unique and inviolable dignity rather than exploitation; [and] freedom not coercion.” No longer can individual short-term economic or political gain come at the expense of integral human development. Integral human development means recognizing that true progress will occur only if we work to integrate the different peoples of the earth, so that through solidarity we can find just ways of sharing resources and addressing dramatic inequality. It means offering viable models of social integration that prevent exclusion and allow everyone to contribute to society. It means integrating the economic, cultural, social, familial and religious components of life so that they cooperate in harmony. It means integrating the individual and the community so that they are no longer in competition. It also means integrating the physical and spiritual aspects of the human person, because development cannot be reduced merely to economic growth nor does it consist in simple accumulation of wealth. “No development work can really achieve its purpose if it does not respect the place where God is present to us and speaks to our hearts.”
Integral human development requires, therefore, macroeconomic, environmental and social policies capable of recognizing the interconnected nature of the person’s needs and articulating policies that respond holistically to these realities. These efforts cannot be imposed from without but rather must be fostered and built from within local communities, with the international community providing the political, financial and technical support needed when local communities are unable to meet basic needs and protect fundamental human rights.
Through renewed commitment to integral human development, not only can we make greater progress on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; we can also begin to lay the foundations for our discussions on the Global Compacts on safe, orderly and regular Migration and on Refugees.
As the Secretary General noted in his report on the Work of the Organization,  we must rekindle faith in multilateral cooperation if we are to address the interconnected challenges facing our world. To this end, the Holy See stands ready to work with other delegations during this session to build the vision of global development rooted in the centrality and dignity of the human person, so that together we can ensure that our shared promises are translated into true human flourishing.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1. Pope Francis, Audience with participants in the Convention Organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on the fiftieth anniversary of “Populorum Progressio”, 4 April 2017.
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