New Efforts Needed to Fight World Poverty, Says Holy See

Mary Ann Glendon Addresses U.N. Meeting in New York

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NEW YORK, JULY 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See made an appeal at the United Nations for developed nations to help the least developed countries, many of which are falling short of poverty-eradication goals.



"Sometimes overlooked among the obstacles to progress is the fact that globalization has accelerated the disruption of entire ways of life," said Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and head of the Holy See's delegation to the assembly of the U.N. Economic and Social Council's 2004 High Level Segment of Least Developed Countries (LDC).

"As age-old patterns of work and family life have disintegrated, a sense of powerlessness has increased," she told the assembly Tuesday.

The Holy See representative repeated an appeal made on several occasions by John Paul II: "The poor cannot wait."

"As new forms of poverty have emerged, the faces of the poor are increasingly those of women and children," Glendon said. "In short, the world is currently going through a chaotic phase, filled with both risk and promise. Those most at risk in the midst of this economic and social turbulence are often the most ignored."

"However, the international community has worked out a coordinated, cooperative approach to enable the least developed countries to develop their own economies and to enter the circle of production and exchange," Glendon continued.

"The elements of that approach have been largely agreed upon: debt relief, fair trade practices, the rule of law, investment in education, primary health care, nutrition and sanitation," she said.

The Holy See representative recalled the commitments assumed by the Brussels Program of Action which "aimed at the eradication of poverty and hunger in the world's 50 least developed countries where 700 million of the world's poor" live.

"The specific commitments envisaged under this Action Program can trigger increasing development aid, promote foreign investment, reduce debt burdens, and open up markets in industrial countries for LDC exports," Glendon said.

"For the first time in history, we may even be within reach of setting conditions for every girl and boy to develop her or his full human potential. But, the key to the prison gates cannot be turned by one party alone," she observed.

"It will be a scandal and a tragedy if the nations do not join hands to turn that key," the pontifical academy president said. "Here, the international community should call on the developed countries to take the lead in showing a greater degree of responsibility and solidarity as well as an abandonment of their sole group interests and objectives in the noble interest of the common good."

"Without a serious commitment of the developed nations to do their share of sacrifice in this process, the LDCs will continue to be trapped in their current difficult situation," said Glendon.

"In view of the internationally agreed target of reducing poverty by one half in LDCs by 2015," she said, "the Holy See acknowledges that there is now a pressing need for a more effective global commitment to mobilize increased volumes of financial resources for development to address widespread poverty in LDCs.

"However, for this financial support to be of benefit to LDCs, it must be channeled more effectively into well prepared, productive investments that provide clear benefits to the communities for which it was intended."

"In parallel," Glendon added, "a major effort is needed to build up local capacity to help prepare and implement these investments while improved transparency and accountability procedures need to be put in place to monitor how these resources are being spent.

"As efforts are made to develop more adequate financial and commercial conditions, the international community should continue to seek for ways and means to enable a fair distribution of profits and to establish conditions that can ensure true human development."

She added: "Since the family is the primary setting where human beings first acquire the qualities of character and competence that ground healthy economies and polities, development policies must be attentive to their impact on endangered social environments."

"What is needed is a change of heart, that the international community may be ever bolder, more generous, more creative, more energetic in its struggle to finally end the division of the world into areas of poverty and plenty," Glendon said.