Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, made that point Friday when he addressed a committee of the U.N. General Assembly that was analyzing the topic "Crisis of External Debt and Development."
"The total external debt of developing countries increased from $1.5 billion in 1990 to $2.4 billion in 2001," the papal representative said, according to the Vatican Information Service.
Referring to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries project, "The HIPC program has yet to find a lasting solution to their debt and debt-servicing problems," the archbishop lamented.
"This recurrent debt crisis has caused an overall outflow of financial resources over the years, which divested those nations of their vital resources essential to their basic development, even to minimum levels of health care and education," he said. It "is imperative ... to reverse this trend."
Archbishop Migliore said the international community faces two challenges.
First, he said, was "the need to find a solution to all outstanding debt problems." Second, he added, was "the need to create a lasting financial system suitable for the development of all countries."
Financing "for development is not just a technical task. Since human beings are endowed with the inherent capacity for moral choice, no human activity takes place outside the sphere of moral judgment. Therefore, those activities that have enduring consequences on the life of an entire population, particularly on its poorer segments, deserve particular attention and moral scrutiny," Archbishop Migliore concluded.
Last Wednesday, he made an appeal for indigenous peoples to receive the necessary means to be the protagonists of their own development. The Holy See representative made the appeal when he addressed the Committee of the U.N. General Assembly on the Program of Activities of the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples. He highlighted "three convictions in which my delegation firmly believes."
"First, the right of development is inherent in every person, group or nation, and the world's 370 million indigenous peoples have the same claim to development as all the rest," he said.
"Second, development, to be truly human, should be integral, comprising all its multidimensional aspects: economic and social, political and cultural, moral and spiritual; it has to be both individual and collective, personal and shared," the archbishop continued. "Third, the indigenous peoples themselves must be architects of their own development."
Relevant initiatives must follow a key criterion: to involve "the indigenous people in the various stages of the projects, from feasibility studies to implementation, from evaluation to readjustments," he stressed.
Noting that the decade of indigenous peoples ends in 2004, Archbishop Migliore said: "The Holy See remains committed to the cause ... [of] enabling indigenous peoples to regain their distinct place."