Statement by the Holy See at the 2023 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
“African countries, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries. Turning the tide, regaining lost ground and embarking on the road to the SDGs”
Thursday, 13 July 2023
One year into the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (DPoA) and with less than a year left before the Vienna Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries (VPoA) expires, it is more urgent than ever that the international community renew its commitment to support countries in special situations and ensure that their specific development needs and priorities are properly addressed. In this regard, the Fifth United Nations Conference on the LDCs in March this year provided a crucial opportunity for the international community to join its efforts and deliver on its promise to “reach the furthest behind first.” The Holy See looks forward to a successful Third United Nations Conference on the Landlocked Developing Countries in 2024.
People are the greatest resource of countries in special situations and “a critical asset for their development.” Any policy or program that truly aims at supporting countries in special situations must therefore put the human person at its center. This means promoting a model of development that is not simply focused on addressing the economic or financial challenges faced by countries in special situations, but rather advances integral human development.
In this regard, poverty eradication remains the most urgent challenge that the international community must address collectively to ensure that all women, men, and children become “dignified agents of their own destiny,” and can develop their full potential, support themselves and their families, and participate in society.
In the fight against poverty, trade plays an important role, especially for LDCs and LLDCs, as it can foster economic growth. Trade “can be called just only when it conforms to the demands of social justice” and international economic relations are grounded in ethical criteria, especially the pursuit of the common good and the universal destination of goods, equity in trade relationships, attention to the rights and needs of the poor in policies concerning trade and international cooperation, and fairer distribution of income. Trade policies should be evaluated based on how they contribute to reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
It is essential that the international community advance development measures that allow each country in a special situation to “grow in its distinct way and develop its capacity for innovation while respecting the values of its proper culture.” In particular, the provision of international assistance should never be used to impose forms of ideological colonization or to tie the provision of economic aid to the acceptance of such ideologies. Instead, theultimate criterion against which all aspects of international development and assistance must be measured is the respect of the inherent dignity of every person and the promotion of the common good of all.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
 Cf. A/CONF.219/2022/3, Doha Programme of Action, paragraph 32.
 Pope Francis, Address to the United Nations General Assembly, 25 September 2015.
 Pope Paul VI, Encyclical letter Populorum Progressio, 59.
 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 364.
 Pope Francis, Encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti, 51.
 Cf. Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 9 January 2023.