Wednesday 29 September 2010
Address by H.E. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States General Debate of the 65th session of the United NationsGeneral Assembly New York, 29 September 2010
For the French translation of the text, please click on:  French translationTo view the video recording, please click on this link: Video Mamberti
Address by H.E. Archbishop Dominique MambertiSecretary for the Holy See’s Relations with StatesGeneral Debate of the 65th session of the United NationsGeneral Assembly New York, 29 September 2010 Mr. President, On behalf of the Holy See I am pleased to extend our congratulations to you on your election as the President of the 65th session of the General Assembly and our best wishes for carrying out your mission successfully. In this new period of work of the General Assembly, the Holy See would like to extend to you its sincere collaboration to face the many challenges that the international community must tackle. Since 1945, each year the Heads of State or Government and Foreign Ministers from all continents come to this UN headquarters in New York, in order to discuss solutions for all major issues of common interest in world affairs, especially in matters of peace, collective security, disarmament, human rights, development cooperation and environmental protection. The sixty-five years that the United Nations has existed are already a unique historic event, in particular if you compare them with the disappointment of the hope in the peace conferences at the beginning of the 20th century and with the League of Nations. The very presence of the United Nations shows that humanity found in the organization a response to the terrible tragedies of two World Wars. In spite of the imperfections of its structures and its functioning, the United Nations has sought to provide solutions to international problems of an economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian nature by striving to carry out the mandate granted to it by the Charter, that is, to be a center for the coordination of the activities of nations with the view to maintaining peace and friendly relations among peoples (UN Charter 12-1.4). The dialogue among the representatives of nations which takes place each year at all sessions of the General Assembly, and remains open and lively in other bodies and agencies of the United Nations family was the fundamental instrument for accomplishing this mandate. Sometimes this dialogue, more than anything else, was a confrontation between opposed ideologies and irreconcilable positions. However, the United Nations has become an irreplaceable element in the lives of people and in the search for a better future for all inhabitants of the earth. That why the Holy See and the Catholic Church pay great attention to the UN, as was demonstrated by the visits of Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It is from this perspective of a productive international dialogue, carried out with deliberations and discussions that take place in this room, that I would like to recall some important developments related to international peace and security which took place during the 64th session of the General Assembly. First of all, the Holy See welcomes the entry into force, on August 1st, of the Cluster Munitions Treaty. This instrument, which the Holy See was among the first States to ratify, does represent an important result for multilateralism based on constructive cooperation among governments and civil society, as well as the connection between humanitarian law and human rights. Such an outcome, rightly so, has been possible due to the spirit of cooperation among the various international partners which has kept the momentum throughout the last sixty-five years. Another important result was the positive conclusion last May of the NPT Review Conference, with the publication of a consensus-based document that provides for different actions related to the three main pillars of the treaty: nuclear disarmament, the non-proliferation of weapons, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Among these, an important sign of hope was the decision to convene before 2012 a Conference for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Another important outcome of the international dialogue was the positive conclusion last May of the Eighth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, with the publication of a consensus document that provides for various actions related to three basic points Treaty: nuclear disarmament, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and peaceful use of nuclear energy. Among them stands out as an important sign of hope, the decision to convene a Conference before 2012 on a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Along the lines of peace and disarmament again, the first session of the preparatory committee for a Conference on an Arms Trade Treaty (scheduled for 2012) held last July in New York also merits to be recalled. This conference will have to elaborate a legally binding instrument "that would set the highest possible international standards " on the transfer of conventional arms. It is emerged from that meeting that henceforth, the process initiated from the Treaty is shared by all States, who are aware of the need to legally regulate the arms trade, for the sake of peace, humanitarian protection as well as social and economic development. The debate during this session of the General Assembly may also make an important contribution to the Conference of 2012. In the context of the spirit of successful international dialogue, we should also welcome the signing of the NEW START Treaty between the U.S. and the Russian Federation. This signing is a step forward in the relations among the nuclear powers, and the Holy See hopes that it would new prospects and lead to substantial reductions in the future. Along these lines, during this session of the General Assembly, some days ago, a high-level meeting was held on disarmament which was very useful for discussing ways to give new life to the conference on disarmament and to continue to build a consensus on the major challenges facing disarmament, in particular the Comprehensive Test- Ban Treaty and the treaty banning the production of fissile materials. We must do everything possible to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons and the Holy See supports all efforts along these lines. During the previous session of the General Assembly, the United Nations made an unprecedented contribution to international cooperation and peace in Haiti where during the earthquake of 12 January 2010 the head of the United Nations Mission, Ambassador Hédi Annabi, died, as well as his assistant, Dr. Luiz da Costa, as well as eighty-two other civil servants and members of the peacekeeping forces. On behalf of the Holy See I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Secretary-General and the national authorities of the persons who died, as well as to their families and colleagues. Their sacrifice should be an impetus for a new commitment to maintaining peace. The Holy See has always recognized and appreciated actions carried out by UN peacekeeping forces and I would like to reiterate this appreciation for the Missions accomplished during the previous session of the General Assembly. The important increase in requests for intervention in recent years show the increased confidence in the UN’s activities and cooperation with regional organizations, but it also highlights the importance of an increasingly great role by the UN and regional organizations in preventive diplomacy. Similarly, the action of the Peace Building Commission remains fundamental to rebuild the social, legal, and economic fabric that was destroyed by war and to avoid the relapse of conflicts. In the same line, initiatives to prevent conflicts, to peacefully resolve conflicts, to separate warring parties and for reconstruction deserve a generous, political and economic support from all members of the UN. Support from all would be an eloquent show of confidence in a destiny based on solidarity for humankind. If we may think that normative developments with relation to disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons do show signs of progress, there are reasons for concern with respect to many challenges facing global security and peace. Above all, military spending in the world continues to be excessive and even to increase. The problem of the exercise of the legitimate right of States to the peaceful development of nuclear energy in accordance with international monitoring remains relevant. The Holy See encourages all parties involved in the settling of various controversies, in particular those with respect to the Korean peninsula and in the Persian Gulf, as well as adjoining regions, to lead to carrying out an in-depth dialogue that would be able to reconcile harmoniously all of the interests of the nations concerned. The recent terrible natural disasters in Pakistan are compounded by other difficulties caused by conflicts in the region. In addition to the humanitarian response which should be generous and other measures to be taken, it is necessary to make an effort at mutual understanding and to understand the causes of the hostilities. Likewise, the sincere dialogue, confidence, and generosity in giving up short-term or circumstantial interests of all is the path to take to find a lasting solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Dialogue and understanding among the different parties, as well as attempts at reconciliation in Iraq and Myanmar for example, and in Central Asia, in the regions of the Caucasus, and other efforts to calm recurrent tensions in Africa, inter alia in Sudan especially before elections, all of these things remain relevant. In most conflicts, an economic element is in play. A significant increase in the living conditions of the Palestinian population and other peoples living in situations of civil or regional wars, would make a certain contribution so that violent opposition would be transformed into a calm and patient dialogue. Mr. President, Several days ago, in this Hall, the high-level event on the MDGs was held. All member States of the UN committed once again to solemnly make every effort necessary to achieve these goals before 2015. The Holy See can only welcome the repeated determination to eradicate poverty and hopes that the efforts will be carried out with determination. However, it is important to highlight that we cannot achieve these goals without implementing two major moral imperatives. On the one hand it is necessary that rich and emerging countries carry out their commitments with respect to development aid and that they create and ensure that a financial and trade framework that is more favorable to the weaker countries. On the other hand all, poor and rich, must drastically change the ethics of their political and economical measures which would guarantee good governance and eradicate corruption; otherwise we could arrive in 2015 without having achieved any results that would be sufficient, except, (perhaps this would be sad and paradoxical), in the area of demographic control and the promotion of certain life style of a minority, as mentioned in some of paragraphs of the Outcome Document of the recent Summit. In this case, the MDGs would be a genuine fraud for the integral human development. With respect to the environment, which is also MDG number seven, the participation of more than 150 heads of state and government in the Conference on Climate Change which took place in Copenhagen in December 2009 reveals the attention and the importance of the theme as complex as that of the climate on the international agenda. This issue, as everyone knows, concerns not only the scientific and environmental aspects of the climate, but also its socio-economic and ethical dimensions. The Holy See hopes that the upcoming session of the Conference of State Parties will take a political decision that makes more concrete the negotiations on a legally binding agreement. At the center of the debate there is organizing a development model based on a new energy system; however it is important to recall the ethic element underlying the question. It is not only a matter of achieving a world that depends less on fossil fuel and that is further committed to energy efficiency and to alternative energy, but also to modify the behavior of irresponsible and unlimited consumption. As my delegation emphasized during the MDG Conference, it is this behavior, and not the growth of population and the development of living conditions in the LDCs, that exert the greatest pressure on resources and on the environment. Positive results of the international community achieved during the previous sessions of the General Assembly could not have been achieved without dialogue among governments and members of civil society who joined this dialogue with increasing strength. However, to be sincere and fully effective, this dialogue must genuinely be a dia-logos, an exchange of wisdom and sharing wisdom. Dialogue must go far beyond mere exchange of words and for the quest for a balance between conflicted interests to a true sharing of wisdom in view of the common good. It was for this very reason that Article I of the Charter links the promotion of human rights and the defense of peace in settling international controversies and economic problems. Nations are not independent from the people who compose them. Consequently fundamental national interests of any government must be to create and maintain conditions conducive to develop fully the integral material and spiritual well-being of each of the inhabitants of their nation. This is why respect and promotion of human rights is the ultimate objective of dialogue and international affairs and, at the same time, an essential condition for a sincere and productive dialogue among nations. This is why the Holy See follows with great attention the activity of the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly, as well as the activity of the High Commission for Human Rights, and this intervention in this general debate gives me the opportunity also to express our support for the work done by the High Commission for Refugees and all bodies and specialization agencies who are working in the vast field of human rights and humanitarian law, such as ILO, IOM, ICRC. Along these lines, the Holy See also believes that progress, although slow, in discussion on the principle of responsibility to protect, adopted by consensus in September 2009, are a reason for hope. However, there is still a lack of determination and effective attention to problems of refugees, persons who have been expelled and major migratory displacements. The very history of the development of human rights which include the right of any individual to publically express one’s own faith and to disseminate it shows that respect for religious freedom is the cornerstone for building human rights. Indeed, if this freedom is missing, there is no recognition of a transcendent dimension of any human person which recognizes their superior dignity to a political recognition and which creates a framework for freedom and responsibility. If religious freedom is missing, then all human rights could just become concessions to the government or, at the most, the result of a balance of social forces that could change because there is no other way to achieve balance. As the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI recalled during his address to the General Assembly in this Hall on 18 April 2008, “the founding of the United Nations, as we know, coincided with the profound upheavals that humanity experienced when reference to the meaning of transcendence and natural reason was abandoned, and in consequence, freedom and human dignity were grossly violated. When this happens, it threatens the objective foundations of the values inspiring and governing the international order and it undermines the cogent and inviolable principles formulated and consolidated by the United Nations.” It is therefore, in the words of the Pope, that “faced with new and insistent challenges, it is a mistake to fall back on a pragmatic approach, limited to determining “common ground”, minimal in content and weak in its effect”. Mr. President, Beyond the criticism of the public opinion on the organizational limits and the lack of effectiveness of the UN, we note that a universally shared awareness of the need for the organization as well as the universal sentiment of gratitude towards its actions in the past and present because we all understand that through the activity of all its bodies, it is an essential forum for dialogue and understanding among governments. The best guarantee that the organization will continue to carry out its historic mission to maintain unity and to coordinate all States with a view to achieving common goals of peace, security, and integral human development for all, will be provided through a constant reference to the dignity of all men and women and through effective respect beginning with respect for the right to life of even those who are the weakest as the sick approaching the end of their life or the unborn children - and for religious freedom. Thank you, Mr. President.