Holy See on Work for All

"Poverty and Social Disintegration Offend Human Dignity"

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NEW YORK, FEB. 8, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address delivered Thursday by Archbishop Celetino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, to a social development commission meeting of the Economic and Social Council. The priority topic was to promote full employment and decent work for all.

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Mr. Chairman,

The promotion of full employment and decent work for all has been an area of continued focus for this Organization. From the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action to the forty-fifth and forty-sixth sessions of this Commission, productive employment, poverty eradication and social integration remain important objectives for the United Nations.

My delegation wishes to stress two key aspects of the item under our consideration: first, that the lack of full employment and decent work and its associated poverty and social disintegration offend human dignity, and second, that we can only hold the trust of the people if we listen to them and concretely take their needs into account.

Today's overall world economic situation continues to present challenges to the objective of full employment and decent work for all. The ever accelerating periodic cycles of growth and job creation on the one hand, and of recession and job losses on the other, disturb the financial and trade relations and mechanisms. At this very moment, with bated breath the world wonders where the ongoing financial woes, provoked by the crisis in the real estate sector in some of the most developed economies, would lead us.

In such economic context, this Commission is challenged to stress the need for effective ways to protect low-income families and workers from financial collapse. Most often, they are the hardest hit in times of economic downturn, thus, any policy to stimulate the economy must provide them concrete economic help. Assisting them is a question of justice and solidarity, but it is also a financially sound measure to stimulate national economies and international trade.

Such assistance can only be effective if measures taken by the stronger economies do not exacerbate the situation in the developing economies. Since this risk looms large in today's highly interdependent economy, the international community must be vigilant to prevent such practice from happening. The Holy See wishes to recall that the compelling needs of the poor have a priority claim on our conscience and on the choices financial leaders make, and as such, it is incumbent upon international fora to provide a platform to the poor because, more often than not, they are left voiceless in the search for solutions to problems that also deeply matter to them.

In order to accelerate the realization of the Copenhagen goals, it is necessary to create an environment and structures which enable people to take an active part in decision-making. Creating an enabling environment, promoting structures responsive to the needs of people and dialoging without preconditions are all integral components to regulating the world economy, better predicting its periodic cycles and finding the most appropriate measures to blunt the negative consequences of global economic downturns.

While globalisation has opened the door to economic prosperity to many people, its downsides continue to disproportionately affect the weak members of our society. Therefore, governments' response to these challenges must be guided by the moral tenet that a good society is measured by the extent to which those with responsibility attend to the needs of the weaker members, especially those most in need. A good society is one in which all benefit from the common good, and nobody is left outside the common concern. Economic policies that help low-income working people live dignified, decent lives should be a priority of any good society worthy of the name.

Finally, my delegation wishes to stress that trust, earned rather than given, among all parties is essential in the area of employment. The persistence of poverty, unemployment and social disintegration are by-products of distrust and the absence of fair relations among the various components of the economic and social mechanisms. A lack of mutual trust among parties also means a lack of confidence in the future which, in turn, means the absence of job security. People, especially the young looking for their first job, discover meaning and confidence in the future when they find long-term work with the opportunity for a deserved promotion.

The Holy See recognizes that the aforementioned issues, among others, are essential in responding to the needs of those who seek decent employment and opportunities to move out of poverty and avoid marginalization, exploitation and social disintegration. Those seeking to enhance their lives look to us for action. It is the hope of my delegation that our words here will quickly become our actions.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.