The Holy See
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New York
Monday, 6 October 2008


Mr President,

My delegation thanks the Secretary-General for his Report on the Work of the Organization and looks forward to working with him to help ensure that this institution builds upon its successes and bridges its shortcomings.

We are witnessing intractable conflicts in many regions of the world. Whether under the guise of civil turmoil, terrorist activity or international conflicts, they perpetuate the flawed belief that violence and war can replace cooperation and dialogue for the common good. In this context, the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, along with the growing strain upon the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, are enduring obstacles and severely hinder the promotion of the common good and mutual cooperation.

However, rather than addressing the symptoms of humanity’s failings we would do well to focus on the underlying causes. Some forty years ago Pope Paul VI stated in this Hall that "development is the new name for peace" and the wisdom of these words should guide us in crafting adequate solutions.

At this point in time we cannot but admit a number of setbacks in our work to globalize solidarity toward the poor. With the failed trade talks in the Doha Round, the increasing international economic slowdown and the missed development assistance targets, we have seen the need for effective consensus and delivery. The upcoming conference on Financing for Development in Doha presents an opportunity for the international community to consolidate promises and renew cooperation between developed and developing countries. My delegation looks forward to working with the participants in order to put the ingenuity of global economic activity at the service of people rather than put people at its mercy.

Mr President,

The Sixty-third Session of the General Assembly stands at a poignant moment in United Nations history. Sixty years ago this December, this body produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with which the world leaders agreed that human rights are not bestowed by governments at their whim but rather are inherent in all individuals regardless of race, nationality or religious belief. It is humbling to recall the war that preceded the adoption of the UDHR but also empowering to know that if the world could come together to ensure the rights of all after such a devastating conflict, then surely today we can find the political will to guarantee the full enjoyment of all human rights.

The rights to life and freedom of thought, conscience and religion remain the core of the human rights system. The discourse over these two fundamental rights is on the rise. However, too often these rights are neglected in favor of more politically expedient issues, and only when the voices of the disenfranchised and discriminated become too loud to be ignored do we give them their proper attention. Only by respecting the right to life, from the moment of conception until natural death, and the consciences of all believers, will we promote a world cognizant and respectful of a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.

A year ago the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We encourage the membership to build upon this common commitment in order to foster greater understanding between governments and indigenous communities.

Finally, Mr President, it is my delegation’s hope that this Session of the General Assembly can serve to promote renewed cooperation and harmony among all peoples. Time and again we have seen an increase in the use of rhetoric which, instead of bringing nations together, chastises and divides them. In all corners of the globe this rhetoric has been used to foment mistrust between States. However, it is my delegation’s wish that this Session will reverse this crescendo of suspect and mistrust and will give way to confidence in our common leadership and shared values. To this end, the fully operational Mediation Support Unit serves as a valuable tool for restoring lost trust and we look forward to following its further developments.

Mr President,

The Secretary-General’s Report recognizes the need for addressing an ever growing number of issues. Whether it is humanitarian assistance, mediation or the ability to bring parties together, this Organization must continue to be shaped in a way that is more responsive to the needs of the twenty-first century.

Thank you, Mr. President.