HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS
ADDRESS BY H.E. MSGR.
This year’s High-Level Segment calls upon world leaders to reflect upon the progress made in achieving the United Nations development agenda and the need to address the developmental needs of rural communities. One needs to look no further than the current news coverage of the ongoing food crises and economic downturn in some developed countries to understand the importance and relevance of this year’s theme.
While this year marks the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, the world-wide food-crisis threatens the attainment of the primary right of every person to be free from starvation. In this light, the recent resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on the Right to Food rightly emphasizes the obligation of States, with the assistance of the international community, to make every effort to meet the food needs of their populations through measures which respect human rights and the rule of law.
The food crisis has greatly impacted all societies. In some places the food crises manifests itself in the scarcity of food and the consequent malnourishment and starvation; in others it appears in the form of higher prices for families trying to provide for their basic needs. Despite the varying degrees of impact, the roots of the current food crisis seem to stem from a series of concomitant causes. Shortsighted economic, agriculture and energy policies which caused a clash between the increasing demand for food items and the insufficient production of food on one hand, and the increase in financial speculations on commodities, uncontrollable increase of the oil prices and adverse climate conditions on the other.
While today’s debate will rightly focus on the structural defects of the world economy and on the causes of the emergency, we must work to ensure that this discussion is accompanied by immediate and effective action. Failure to take action will result in this meeting being merely an exercise in rhetoric and procrastination of our responsibilities.
At the outset, immediate action must be taken to assist those in immediate danger and suffering from malnutrition and starvation. It is difficult to think that in a world which spends over 1.3 trillion dollars (851 billion Euros) per year in armaments, the necessary life-saving funds to address the immediate needs of people are unavailable. There are no reasons not to act, and a sincere wish to act must be accompanied by the necessary actions rather than merely words and good intentions.
In the medium to long-term, the initial economic emergency aid must be accompanied by a concerted effort of all to invest in long-term and sustainable agriculture programs at the local and international levels. The last twenty-five years has seen considerable progress in reducing the numbers of people living in extreme poverty and unless we reinvest in agriculture, the progress that has been achieved through hard work and dedication risks being lost. To this end, agrarian reforms in developing countries must be sped-up in order to give small-holder farmers the tools for increasing production in a sustainable manner as well as access to local and global markets.
In addition, agricultural and environmental policies need to walk the path of reason and reality in order to balance the need for food production with the need to be good stewards of the earth. The current food scarcity reemphasizes the urgency to explore new energy supplies which do not pit the right to food with other needs.
My delegation welcomes the recommendations of the recent High-level Conference on World Food Security held in Rome at the FAO. These recommendations offer a practical guide on how to deal with short and long term consequences of the food crises and gives guidance on how to guard against future crises.
The twentieth century has suffered in a tragic way the effects from people and governments looking only within their national borders and the lack of consultation and multilateralism cooperation. The present crises is an opportunity for the global community to come together to address this crises and assume their responsibility toward their neighbor.
Thank you Mr. President