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Human Person Isn’t an Obstacle to Development, Holy See Tells UN

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Human Person Isn’t an Obstacle to Development, Holy See Tells UN


The challenges facing the globe are unparalleled since the Second World War, the Holy See’s delegation at the United Nations says, and in confronting them, the human person and his dignity and rights must be placed at the center, lest an approach is taken up that “views the human person as an obstacle to development or, even worse, as the cause of his or her own underdevelopment and neediness.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza,Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said this on Tuesday when he addressed the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee General Debate.

Here is the text of the address:

Mr. Chair,

I would like to extend my delegation”€™s congratulations to you and the bureau on your election and assure you of the Holy See”€™s continued collaboration.

In the last eighteen months, the international community has seen Heads of State and Government gather in order to adopt the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and, a couple of weeks ago on September 19, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The hard work of translating these commitments into real and tangible results has already began, and must be fully supported so that the great promise to leave no one behind can be fulfilled.

These significant international commitments demonstrate a willingness among political leaders to come together to address global challenges. At the same time, however, there has been a continued breakdown of trust, as inequalities among and within countries have become even more gaping and the number of violent conflicts has increased, provoking the humanitarian crisis we are facing today, which is without parallel since the Second World War.

The Holy See believes that in addressing the interconnected challenges of environmental, economic and social development, a human-centered approach must form the foundation. The centrality of the human person and the promotion of the dignity and worth of all persons without distinction are fundamental in order to avoid a reductionist approach that views the human person as an obstacle to development or, even worse, as the cause of his or her own underdevelopment and neediness. As Pope Francis stated in his Address to the United Nations General Assembly last year, “€œThe pillars of integral human development have a common foundation, which is the right to life”€ and more broadly “€œthe right to existence of human nature itself.”€

Integral human development therefore requires building macroeconomic policies capable of creating stable and forward-looking financial, commercial and economic growth to meet humanity”€™s basic needs. An integral human development model must be able to address the spiritual, social, environmental and physical needs of people. It is a model that cannot be imposed from the outside; rather it must be built from within communities and societies that invest in and provide the structures necessary to allow their members adequately to satisfy their basic needs such as food, housing, health care and work, and enjoy less tangible yet fundamental rights such as education, freedom of expression and religious freedom.

In his Address to the UN General Assembly, Pope Francis succinctly described integral human development this way: At its “€œminimum [it] has three names: lodging, labor and land; and one spiritual name; spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and all other civil rights.”€

Indeed, integral human development is more than the sum total of resources invested into development projects and their measurable material results; it includes as well those elements that, though at times intangible and imperceptible, are life transforming and truly contribute to greater human flourishing.

In order to bring about such integral human development, a renewed commitment to just and equitable mechanisms for global trade and multilateral financial assistance are necessary. Global interdependence is a reality in which human and financial resources and decisions are often far removed from those who consume or those who produce them. At its worst, such globalization can manifest itself in a “€œglobal indifference”€ to the needs of others. At its best, it expresses itself in global solidarity and commitment to meet our responsibilities toward those in need. The strength of international cooperation is based on the principle of one common humanity rooted in the equal dignity of all.

This recognition of global solidarity fosters greater social cohesion and harmony. Global solidarity means seeing others as more than mere neighbors, but as brothers and sisters. It thus requires ensuring that our global trade, financial and economic systems incorporate ethical and moral structures which recognize our responsibilities to our communities, locally and globally, and to our common home.

Mr. Chair,

In a couple of weeks, global leaders will gather in Quito for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. The dramatic changes in patterns of population settlements since the 1976 Habitat I have placed new and increasing challenges on families and communities working to adapt to new realities, in particular in mega urban settings. It is my delegation”€™s hope that Habitat III will provide an opportunity to address the challenges of housing and urbanization in a holistic, people-centered manner.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


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