The Holy See
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, 22 March 2005


Mr Chairperson,

The Delegation of the Holy See extends to you and the Bureau its congratulations and all best wishes of success for the work of this 61st Session of the Commission on Human Rights.

Mr Chairperson,

1. All poverty indicators give evidence of a disturbing gap between developed and developing countries. The equal right of people to take their seat at the table of the common banquet is not recognized. Health conditions are worsening in some regions not least because of the pandemics of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Illiteracy persists and access to food and drinking water is denied to too many people. Almost 20 years since the Declaration on the Right to Development in 1986, 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" (Art. 1, 1).

The commendable work carried out by the Working Group and the High Level Task Force on the Implementation of the Right to Development highlights the importance of a comprehensive approach of all sectors of civil society, of states and the international community if the operationalization of the right to development has to make progress.

Specific and concrete measures translate widely agreed principles of solidarity into a better life for the poor of the world. 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 and important occasions are ahead for the international community when the impact of trade and of official development assistance on development will be carefully dealt with. In fact Governments should feel encouraged in proposing concrete measures for the right to development by the extraordinary generosity shown by the people of the world in responding to the recent tsunami tragedy.

2. 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. An inclusive approach therefore will take into account together with "sound economic policies that foster growth with equity" the priority of the human person and of human dignity and aspirations.

3. To the right to development corresponds a duty of collaboration across political and geographical lines. The dynamics of this process involve rich and poor countries to take steps in two major areas that condition the implementation of the right to development: human rights and trade. In particular, current negotiations regarding the opening of the markets of developed countries to the agricultural products of the South and the lowering of entry taxes for these products will make the international trade system responsive to the social impact of its agreements. On the other hand, good governance, for example, will impact the whole quality of life. This Delegation also supports the renewed calls to condone the external debt of highly indebted poor countries and others as well and to comply with the agreed commitment to provide 0.7 percent of GNP for Official Development Assistance.

But development is not a homogenizing process that flattens local cultures and values and takes away the creative responsibility of national and local communities. The respect and the positive appreciation of these communities add to the richness of the process , strengthen it and favour positive results. In the past, for not listening to local communities, some development projects ended up as cathedrals in the desert. A great service that international cooperation can contribute is of course assistance in capacity building, especially through education equally of young women and men, that allows the blooming of local talent and consequent self-reliance.

4. As the debate and the refinement of proposals continue in this critical area of development as a right for everyone, the incorporation of this right in the decisions of the financial institutions, in financial and trade exchanges, will support a global partnership for development that will give new impetus to its implementation. The road ahead is long and not without obstacles. A patient work of negotiations, a holistic approach, can open the way to success. The Delegation of the Holy See has been a constant advocate of development, supports the inclusion of social development policies in the future agenda of the Working Group as well as the comprehensive concept of development agreed at the 1995 Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development, one that is political, economic, cultural, ethical and spiritual.


John Paul II, On Social Concern (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis), n. 33. Rome: 1987


*L’Osservatore Romano, 26.3.2005 p.2.

L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in English n.19 p.11.