The Holy See
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Thursday, 9 October 2003


Mr. President,

Since this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor under your presidency, allow me to join the previous speakers in congratulating you and the other members of the Bureau.

Mr. President, when Heads of State and Governments at the 2000 Millennium Summit committed themselves to reaching measurable targets by 2015, they were thinking of it not only as inspirational but also as technically viable.

With twelve years remaining before that target year, my delegation reaffirms its commitment to the millennium goals, believes in their technical viability as effective tools of political mobilization in favor of the marginalized, and unites itself with the Secretary General's call for "taking a hard look at the existing architecture of multilateral institutions".

Mr. President, the struggle for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a struggle for the globalization of ethics, equity, inclusion, human security, sustainability and development.

Such goods can be delivered by market forces only if attention is paid to the preservation and enhancement of human, community and environmental resources. The efficiency of the international trade and financial systems should be measured by their effective contribution to the achievement of the MDGs. Thus, the challenge is to find the effective framework of rules and institutions for stronger governance local, national, regional and global to ensure that globalization works for the good of people and not just for profit.

The international community should refashion the established ideas about political equality, social justice and liberty and re-design these into a coherent political project robust enough for a world where power is exercised on a transnational scale and where risks are shared by peoples across the world.

When we speak about the MDGs we are addressing our immediate future and, thus, we are talking about children. Children are the most precious treasure deserving of the utmost love and respect, and they are given to each generation as a challenge to its wisdom and humanity. The well-being of the world's children depends greatly on the measures taken by States to support and help families fulfill their natural life-giving and formative functions.

It is interesting to note that in 1946, when the General Assembly created the UNICEF, this acronym used to be understood as the UN International Emergency Fund. Despite the change in meaning the same sense can be applied now to situations where children are not welcomed, where their rights are tampered and their plight abandoned. It is a real emergency that must be addressed quickly if we want to preserve society.

In this regard, my delegation reaffirms the centrality of education. But it should be a knowledge not only of information but knowledge with direction. While global media networks and satellite communications can promote transnational cultural diversity, it should also endeavour to safeguard people's cultural identity. National, along with indigenous culture, should flourish alongside foreign cultures.

The feminization of poverty and some historical forms of marginalization of women have deprived the human race of untold resources. A heartening answer to such problems is the gradual increase of women's participation in the formal labor market. Yet, women's hours spent in unpaid work remain high, and most national labor laws do not recognize the vital importance of work or care at home.

With the elusive conditions for peace, my delegation is profoundly concerned about security and terrorism. An unwanted effect of technological progress and economic globalization has been the dramatic increase of human traffic, specially women and children, spawning drug related crimes, triggering weapons trade to feed street crime as well as civil strife. In areas affected by economic stagnation, structural adjustment programmes have led to the dismantling of state services.

Chronic environmental degradation is becoming today's silent emergency. The irrational exploitation of natural resources is resulting in less biodiversity and fewer forests.

Unfortunately, most of the costs are borne by the poor, while the world's rich benefit the most.

This leaves without saying that, guided by these MDGs, each society needs to find its own arrangements based on its history and conditions. All societies need to devise a better solution and to make a strong commitment to preserve time and resources for care and the societal bonds that nourish human development. The risk of marginalization does not have to be a reason for despair. It should be a call for more community action, that is, focusing on group access, not just individual ownership; winning peace, not just wars; attending to forgotten health emergencies and not only to deadly pandemics; assuring national developments through fair trade and financial autonomy, and not just by donor short-term aid and debt relief.

My delegation appreciates, above all, that in putting flesh to the MDGs, tireless efforts are being exerted by the UN system in guiding governments, assisted by civil societies, to set up mechanisms to make ethical standards and human rights binding for nations, corporations and individuals. In that manner, multilateral agreements help to establish global markets that are consistent with human development.

Mr. President, the Holy See understands that the MDGs, noted for their preferential focus for the poor, are not a transitory target-driven goal but a permanent task and commitment.

These goals are technically viable if every human being, who is the stakeholder and center of these goals, is also put at the center of the economic thinking and of the "architecture" of all international organizations, including those dealing with finances and trade.

Thank you, Mr. President.