October 17, 2018
Eradication of Poverty

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See

Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee
Agenda Item 24: Eradication of Poverty

New York, 17 October 2018

Mr. Chair,

The scourge of poverty, affecting as it does individuals and peoples, continues to dominate the international scene and remains one of the greatest global challenges of our time. Although a billion people have been lifted out of this situation, poverty rates are still very high in many countries, particularly in Africa and in the least developed countries. According to the report of the Secretary-General, the number of people suffering from hunger has tragically increased, especially in countries affected by conflict, drought and disasters; 844 million people still lack basic water services; 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation; one billion people currently live without electricity; and half of the 1.46 billion people living in poverty across 104 countries are children.[1]

These numbers become even more troubling at a time when the international community is suffering from what the Secretary-General, in his address to the General Assembly, poignantly called a “Trust Deficit Disorder.”[2] People are losing faith in political establishments within their own countries, meanwhile international cooperation is less certain and more difficult.

Mr. Chair,

With the 2030 Agenda, the international community committed itself to “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions”[3] and pledged that “no one will be left behind.” It did so based on the “centrality of the human person as the subject primarily responsible for development.” For men and women to defeat extreme poverty, they must be dignified agents of their own destiny. Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed, but rather must be allowed to flourish for each individual and for every family in relation with others. The international community must reaffirm this vision. We cannot rebuild the broken trust unless we walk arm in arm with our less fortunate brothers and sisters to help free them from oppressive poverty.

In this regard, my Delegation would like to stress the importance of the family as the primary agent of sustainable development, and therefore as a model of communion and solidarity within nations and among international institutions. A shared concern for the family and its members is a sure contribution to facilitate poverty reduction and the wellbeing of children, to promote equality between girls and boys, women and men, to improve the balance of time among work-family-rest, and to reinforce intra- and intergenerational bonds. Family-friendly policies contribute effectively to the achievement of the development goals and to the cultivation of peaceful societies.

Mr. Chair,

Within the family of nations, each must be the architect of its own development and must be pro-active in assuming such a responsibility. No nation, however, can “go it alone” nor realize its potential for development in isolation. There is a need for regional mutual aid agreements among the poorer nations, as well as for broader-based programs of support for these nations from developed countries.

At the same time, States and international organizations should not use international economic assistance or development programs to pressure other States and organizations to adopt policies that undermine the ethical and cultural foundations of their society. Trust cannot be rebuilt on these terms.

Trust begins when people and their needs are genuinely placed at the center of our action. As Pope Francis said in his 2015 Address to the General Assembly, “Above and beyond our plans and programs, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights.”[4] Only by placing these real men and women at the center can the United Nations be truly relevant to all people.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


1. Cf. A/73/298, 4-5.
2. António Guterres, Address to the General Assembly, 25 September 2018.
3. Preamble, para 1.
4. Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 25 September 2015.