Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Seventy-first Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Second Committee Agenda Item 21: Globalization and Interdependence
New York, 18 October 2016
My delegation thanks the Secretary-General for the recent reports that highlight many of the promises and challenges associated with Globalization and Interdependence. These promises and problems are not new. Individuals living within communities, and communities and states living in proximity have always been interdependent. As Aristotle observed more than two thousand years ago, “man is by nature a social animal.”
Modern technology has allowed this interdependence to reach heights never before imagined. Technologies that allow us to share ideas at a global level and converse with somebody on the other side of the globe in real time have greatly increased the stock of human knowledge, created wealth and promoted well-being on a massive scale.
They have also, however, led to tremendous problems and challenges, such as the application of these technologies in warfare, in terrorist recruiting and financing, in creating even wider inequalities between those who have access to this technology and those who do not, in divorcing the digitized finance industry from the real economy, and in abetting individualism and unfettered consumerism that are endangering the solidarity and the health of the planet, our common home.
The current report on major economic challenges shows how austerity policies in developed economies have led to an economic slowdown in the developing world. While a debate is ongoing as to whether austerity measures or greater spending to stimulate economic growth constitute the best way to get out of stagnation and financial crisis, data show that austerity measures have led to higher unemployment and rising poverty rates even in the developed world. Young people have been hit particularly hard. As Pope Francis has commented, “I have come into contact with the situation of so many young unemployed people, those who live on redundancy pay or in precarious situations. But this is not just an economic problem, it is a problem of dignity. Where there is no work, there is no dignity, the experience of the dignity of bringing bread home!”
In our days, perhaps there is no greater challenge to globalization and interdependence than the mass movements of refugees and migrants. The Secretary-General’s report informs us that in 2015 the number of international migrants — persons living in a country other than where they were born — reached 244 million. If international migrants constituted their own country, they would be the fifth largest in the world. Additionally, 40 million persons have been displaced within their own countries. The world is witnessing the highest level of forced displacement since the Second World War.
This phenomenon of forced displacement is of particular concern for the Holy See. Tens of millions of refugees and migrants have been forced to flee from wars and conflicts, persecutions and discrimination, extreme poverty and environmental degradation. The situation is even graver when we consider that, during their journey, refugees and other forced migrants face the dangers of trafficking, starvation and many forms of abuse, and upon arriving at their destination, rather than finding a safe haven, many encounter mistrust, suspicion, discrimination, extreme nationalism, racism and a lack of clear policies regulating their acceptance. The paradox of the present state of globalization and interdependence is that while countries keep discussing on the reduction of barriers to the circulation of goods and services, they are building walls to block the movement of people.
In the face of such unfair incoherence, the Catholic Church continues its tradition of solidarity with ever-greater vigor. Pope Francis has undoubtedly placed refugees and migrants at the top of his agenda. His trips to Lampedusa and to Lesbos were not casual decisions, but deliberate choices to give voice to those most in need of our solidarity and to call on all of us to give a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources. He also shows his particular solicitude for refugees and migrants by placing under his direct supervision the Holy See organism that is competent on matters related to human mobility, in particular of refugees and migrants.
We must strive even more resolutely to eliminate, in all countries without exception, the structural causes of conflicts, violence, poverty and hunger, to attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, to ensure dignified and productive labor for all, to provide access to quality education, and to give appropriate protection to the family, which is an essential element in human and social development. These should be the measures of a successful interdependence and globalization.
My delegation would like to conclude with the words of Pope Francis that encapsulate the need for a healthy form of globalization and interdependence: “A nation that seeks the common good cannot be closed in on itself; societies are strengthened by networks of relationships. The current problem of immigration makes this clear… dialogue is essential. Instead of raising walls, we need to be building bridges… All these issues, thorny as they may be, can find shared solutions, solutions that are reasonable, equitable and lasting.”
Thank you. Mr. Chair.
1 Pope Francis, Message to Participants in the National Convention of the Italian Episcopal Conference, 24-26 October 2014, Salerno (Italy).