Statement by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
UNGA 78 – Second Committee
Agenda item 20: Groups of countries in special situations
New York, 4 October 2023
Countries in special situations deserve the full attention of this Committee and the international community as a whole. The Secretary-General’s reports paint a concerning picture of the challenges faced by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Under current circumstances, which include, inter alia, crippling debts, slow growth prospects, persistent food insecurity and malnutrition, extreme vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remains out of reach for most countries in special situations.
Yet, at the very core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development there is the commitment of reaching “the furthest behind first.” As Pope Francis has recalled, this means that “we are responsible for the fragility of others as we strive to build a common future.” Ensuring that the specific development needs and priorities of countries in special situations are properly addressed is not a choice, it is a matter of justice and a moral imperative for the international community. This requires ensuring that “the lives of all are prior to the appropriation of goods by a few.” Designing effective measures that contribute to lifting people out of poverty, while reducing the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and that allow all women, men and children to become “dignified agents of their own destiny” and develop their full potential must therefore be the ultimate goal of international cooperation and assistance provided to countries in special situations.
Indeed, people are the greatest resource of all countries 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 and promote a model of development that does not simply focus on addressing their economic or financial challenges, but rather advances integral human development.
Integral human development cannot be achieved if millions of people continue to lack access to the necessary resources and opportunities that would allow them to support themselves and their families and participate in society. Currently, it is estimated that the 377 million people living in extreme poverty in the LDCs represent more than 50 per cent of all people living in extreme poverty across the world. Therefore, poverty eradication remains the most urgent challenge that the international community must prioritize and address collectively when designing and implementing development programs tailored on the specific needs of LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS.
In the fight against poverty, a crucial role is played by investing in young people, especially by ensuring quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. When provided with opportunities to discover and cultivate their talents, young people, while acquiring skills that help them escape the poverty trap and achieve better living conditions, can also become a driving force for innovation and sustainable development.
This caring for our brothers and sisters cannot be separated from caring for our common home. The protection of the environment, the sustainable use of its natural resources, and the fight against climate change are integral and non-negligible parts of our concerns for the poor and those most in need. Despite bearing the lowest responsibility for the current global climate and environmental crises, countries in special situations are often the ones who pay the highest price. The paradox is even more alarming if we consider that natural resources constitute the comparative advantage of most countries in special situations, whose very survival and prospects for development mainly depend on the conservation and sustainable use of those resources.
Finally, it is essential that any development program adopted by the international community allows 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 ideologies.Instead, the ultimate 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, Mr. Chair.
 A/78/112-E/2023/94, Report of the Secretary-General on the Follow-up to the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries; A/78/283, Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014–2024; A/78/222, Report of the Secretary-General on the Follow-up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
 Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti, 115.
 Ibid, 116.
 Pope Francis, Address to the United Nations General Assembly, 25 September 2015.
 Cf. A/78/112-E/2023/94.
 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.