Rich Nations Urged to Fulfill Promises Against World Hunger

Holy See Calls for Innovative Ways to Finance Development

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See appealed to developed countries to fulfill their commitments in the struggle against world hunger and poverty, and to find "innovative ways" to achieve these objectives.



The appeal, made by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, resounded Monday at a meeting at the United Nations, held to study new ways of combating hunger and poverty. The meeting was convoked by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the meeting was attended by representatives of 110 countries, who committed themselves to accelerate the campaign to reduce the number of poor in the world by half, and to allocate funds for the struggle against hunger and misery.

The political leaders signed a "Declaration on Actions Against Hunger and Poverty." In part, the document mentions mechanisms to establish taxes on worldwide transactions and on the arms trade.

Cardinal Sodano said the 2000 U.N. Millennium Declaration approved by the international community that year had set in motion "an alliance … against hunger in the world, but later, little by little, it was discovered that sufficient funds were lacking to address a program of world food security."

"One of the main problems which makes such a program arduous is that of funding," the cardinal said. He reminded "all the donor countries ... about their commitment to increase public aid for development to 0.7% of each state's GNP," or gross national product.

At the same time, Cardinal Sodano supported Brazilian President Lula's proposal to "increase the availability of resources to address those challenges" and "to examine alternative sources to finance development."

In addition, the cardinal supported the Brazilian leader's suggestion to find "innovative ways" to fund the struggle for development, "supporting particular initiatives such as that of the International Finance Facility," launched by the British government.

Last July, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown explained in the Vatican that the project hopes to collect, over 10 years, $50 billion annually through the emission of obligations in the international capital markets.

These funds, Brown indicated, would be allocated to improve conditions in hospitals and schools in poor countries.

For Cardinal Sodano, the struggle against hunger "goes beyond mere emergencies."

"This struggle," he said, "must address a series of complex factors such as, for example, the need to invest in the human capital of local populations -- I am thinking of the areas of education and health -- of requesting the transference of the appropriate technologies and of guaranteeing equity in international trade."

"For its part, the Holy See will give its own support in this respect. This will be an enormous enterprise, together with the one being carried out against sickness and misery in general," the Vatican secretary of state said.

"Thus what is indispensable to live will be facilitated to every human creature loved by God, with an immense dignity, in his image and likeness," he added, quoting words of the Brazilian Bishop Helder Pessoa Câmara, who died in 1999.

According to the declaration signed Monday in New York, much more must be done to achieve the target of $50 billion annually to cover the Millennium Worldwide Goals for 2015. About 1 billion people worldwide live in abject poverty.