Holy See Reminds U.N. of Role in Struggle Against Poverty

Archbishop Migliore Addresses General Assembly

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NEW YORK, NOV. 24, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A Holy See representative reminded the United Nations and developed countries that they play a key role in the reduction of world poverty.



Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United States, addressed the plenary session of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, on the "Follow-up to the Outcome of the Millennium Summit."

At the September 2000 summit, 171 governments signed the Millennium Declaration in the U.N. General Assembly.

"It is encouraging to hear from previous delegations of their commitment to development that has a human face," Archbishop Migliore said.

"Indeed, forging links between human rights and development, and recognizing basic freedoms and equality before the law, eliminate many violent conflicts that threaten hopes for the realization of economic and social rights," he said.

The prelate mentioned that progress in the accomplishment of the "millennium development goals," MDGs, has been achieved "in countries which have been able to set up a significant process of economic growth, allowing them to pay by themselves the economic cost of the MDGs."

However, "scarce economic aid and international economic conditions have not allowed the poorest countries to achieve the most important targets in education, health, and access to water and sanitation," he noted.

According to Archbishop Migliore's address, issued by the Holy See, last year the total official aid to development was $68.5 billion, just 0.25% of the donor countries' aggregated national income, "far from the long-agreed aid goal of 0.7% of national income."

The archbishop also said: "Much of the aid actually forthcoming is not targeted at the fundamental needs of the poorest countries."

"The ability of the poorest countries, mostly found in Africa, to obtain export and fiscal revenues is dwarfed by rich countries' export subsidies and by tariffs levied on African exports, sometimes 10 times higher than those levied on goods traded within OECD countries," he said, referring to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

According to Archbishop Migliore, "The success of the global efforts toward peace and development ... is inevitably correlated to a precise vision of the role of the U.N. and to the ultimate responsibilities of governments." Thus, he exhorted them "to reinterpret the idea of sovereignty with a view to a new global responsibility."

Such sovereignty "will embrace the concept that developing countries must always participate fully in decisions taken about projects destined for their respective territories," he said.

Archbishop Migliore said that "enlightened leadership is expected from the United Nations" to ensure that "important new ideas see the light of day, rather than being sidelined," and that "steps be taken to make national and international governance more consistent."

"In other words, good national governance must be backed up and supported by good international governance," he said.

The Holy See permanent observer reminded his audience that when "171 governments from the North and South signed up to the Millennium Declaration" there "was a feeling of urgency in the air," and the Holy See "allied itself with these goals in terms of the Jubilee challenge. Subsequently, the momentum was kept alive worldwide by benchmarks, deadlines, campaigns, measured targets and pledges made in the series of subsequent conferences. Performance will be reviewed next year."

He added: "Nevertheless, these summits will promote the cause of peace only if the commitments made during them are truly honored."