Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, expressed alarm over the rise of acts of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which he said are contrary to the dignity of every person and pose a threat both to peace and sustainable, integral development.
His remarks came on October 31, 2017, during the debate of the Third Committee of the General Assembly dedicated to Agenda Item 70, entitled “Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance,” at the United Nations in New York.
He said that the processes underway toward the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and the Global Compact on Migration provide an unprecedented opportunity to oppose racism and xenophobia against migrants and refugees and protect their human rights. Quoting Pope Francis, he emphasized the need to form a culture of encounter and human rights in which their connection to the common good and to the rights of others is featured
His intervention 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, Third Committee
Agenda Item 70: Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
New York, 31 October 2017
Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are contrary to the inalienable dignity of every human person. They are often born out of fear or a spirit of domination, in opposition to a culture of encounter characterized by openness, fraternity and solidarity.
The rise of anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts, the manifestations of anti-Muslim sentiments in some countries, the persecution of Christians and the various forms of harassment or violence against individual persons or minorities because of their religious or ethnic origins, the human rights and democratic challenges raised by extremist political parties and movements, the incitement to acts of hatred by terrorist groups, and the scapegoating of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, are all disturbing expressions of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and must be confronted in all their forms and manifestations.
The adoption of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), have demonstrated the desire and determination of the international community to heal the wounds of the past and to take action against all forms of racial discrimination. The Holy See, which signed the Convention in 1966 and ratified it in 1969, believes that racism, besides being a grave offense against human dignity, poses a threat to the realization of peaceful, just and inclusive societies and it hampers international commitments to sustainable, integral development like, most notably, the 2030 Agenda.
In this regard, the ongoing processes leading to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and to a Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration represent an unprecedented opportunity to oppose intolerance, racial discrimination and xenophobia against migrants, refugees and their families, and to protect their fundamental human rights regardless of their status. Pope Francis reminds us that it is important to recognize, and help others to see, that migrants and refugees are not a problem to be solved, but our brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.
While international covenants and national legislation are indispensable instruments to combat all forms of racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, human rights education plays a key role to foster social cohesion and to promote the respect of human dignity. Pope Francis has stated that it is “vital to develop a culture of human rights that wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the ‘all of us’ made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. In fact, unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conflicts and violence.”
The Holy See reaffirms its determination to fight all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as contrary to the inherent dignity of every human person, and will continue to propose and seek to catalyze a culture of encounter as a remedy to these fragmentations of the human family.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1. Cfr. Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2014): Towards a Better World, (5 August 2013).
2. Pope Francis, Address to Members of the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, 25 November 2014.
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