Seventy-Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Second Committee General Debate
United Nations, New York, October 9, 2020
Allow me to begin by congratulating you and the bureau on your election and assure you all of the Holy See’s support during the work of this main session. As its contribution to this General Debate, my Delegation would like to comment on three issues.
The Revitalization of the Second Committee
The informal dialogues on the revitalization of the Second Committee during the 74th Session confirmed the commitment of Member States to the mandate and purpose of this body. We thank Ambassador Cheikh Niang for his tireless efforts to move these discussions forward. The adoption of a decision by consensus was a credit to all Delegations and is a sign of hope for a renewed spirit of consensus in the Committee.
The Holy See took an active part in the discussions and was very pleased to see the decision affirm that the work of the Committee “needs to be better aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, while recognizing that the purview of the Second Committee is broader than the 2030 Agenda” (paragraph 5). Agreement on this fundamental point will no doubt serve to facilitate further discussions on revitalization.
The Holy See, however, is concerned that the abovementioned decision has introduced changes with regard to the periodicity of some draft resolutions. The periodicity of each draft resolution is the result of intergovernmental negotiations during previous years’ Second Committee sessions and reflects a delicate balance that Delegations achieved, in a spirit of compromise.
As for future work on re-vitalization, my Delegation would encourage the Committee to give consideration to how that decision will impact our discussions on particular agenda items as well as on negotiations of resolutions in general. To respect the intergovernmental nature of this body and the need to retain the focus on the subject matter of the agenda items, timely reports from the Secretary-General, well-planned meetings and adequate time for discussions are needed. Likewise successful negotiations require the early circulation of drafts [with sources and in Word format], the allowance of sufficient time to consult with capitals and to conduct meaningful informal consultations that are open, transparent and inclusive.
Integral human development and care for our common home
For the Holy See, the key aspects of the mandate and agenda of the Second Committee are the advancement of integral human development and the protection of our common home. The eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, economic growth and macroeconomic policy, financing for development, the promotion of sustainable development, agriculture development, food security and nutrition all serve the good of the human person as a whole. Development is not limited simply to the economic or financial spheres, but rather involves a unity of economic, ecological, social, cultural, spiritual, ethical and human dimensions, since our work concerns the dignity and development of men, women and children and the common good of all peoples.
The 2030 Agenda, in which the international community came “together and affirmed its commitment to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions and to ensure that all children, women and men throughout the world will have the conditions necessary to live in true freedom and dignity," is based on this integral approach.
The good of the human person is tied to respect for universal human rights and human dignity. Thus, the importance of promoting and protecting fundamental human rights in the fight to eradicate poverty and foster integral human development cannot be overstated. It does not serve the General Assembly, however, if there is duplication of topics in various Committees or if controversial issues that impede progress in one Committee are introduced into other Committees or fora, with the same predictable result. Therefore, the specific considerations on human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the meaning of “rights,” belong to the discussions of the Third Committee.
Decade of Action
With regard to the Decade of Action on which the international community has embarked, it is imperative that it lives up to its name and delivers on its promise, beginning with eradicating poverty and ending hunger. This is not an obligation based ultimately on political documents or plans, but rather stems from our common humanity and our being called to be responsible protectors of one another. We cannot accept that hundreds of millions are barely surviving and going without their daily bread. We cannot accept that millions of persons continue to be deprived of primary goods, that economic and technological inequality deteriorate our social fabric, and that dependence on unlimited material progress threatens our common home.
Advancing the implementation of Agenda 2030 and other related commitments, such as those set out in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and our obligations to protect the environment, have become even more challenging due to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has “highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected everyone is.” Therefore, as Pope Francis has noted, “we cannot heal the world” if we “do not take care of one another, starting with the least, with those who are most impacted, including creation [itself].” It is in this spirit that Pope Francis launched the Vatican COVID-19 Commission. Through the activity of its five working groups, focusing on specific aspects of the pandemic, the Commission assists local churches worldwide in developing effective and adequate responses that address the needs of people on the ground.
In conclusion, I wish to assure everyone of the Holy See’s constructive engagement with this Second Committee during the coming months. The issues under discussion have real-world consequences and deserve our focused attention and common action.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Cf. Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, n. 14.
Note of the Holy See on the first anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, n. 15.
Cf., Pope Francis, pre-recorded Message during the General Debate of the Seventy-Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 25 September 2020.
Cf., Pope Francis, Remarks at the General Audience, 26 August 2020.
Pope Francis, Remarks at the General Audience, 12 August 2020.
Pope Francis, Remarks at the General Audience, 12 August 2020.