VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2005 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, spoke yesterday at the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights, focusing on what has been accomplished and what remains to be done in implementing the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development.

He began his intervention by noting that "almost 20 years since the Declaration on the Right to Development, large segments of the human populations are still cut off from a right that is so clearly proclaimed in this important document: 'The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized'."

While much has been done, said Archbishop Tomasi, "a renewed mobilization of efforts is called for since the achievement of the Millennium Goals appears at this point a very elusive target for the least developed countries." There is still great poverty in the world, he said, as well as worsening health conditions in many regions, illiteracy and a lack of access for many to food and drinking water.

He underscored that "experience shows that the implementation of the right to development is successful if centered on the human person and on human communities, as the Declaration on the Right to Development states, and these should be the active participants and beneficiaries of this right. The network of educational and health-care institutions and the relief agencies, for instance, conducted by faith-based organizations mainly for the poorest people of the world prove to be motors of change and empowerment rightly because they focus directly on the human person and on an understanding of sustainable development that keeps a balanced relationship between the needs of individual persons and the communities they belong to and between people and the environment."

The nuncio also emphasized that there must be "collaboration across political and geographical lines," and this should include "opening the markets of developed countries to the agricultural products of the South and lowering entry taxes for these products." Most importantly, said Archbishop Tomasi, local communities must be listened to, or "development projects can end up as cathedrals in the desert."