The Holy See
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Wednesday, 16 October 2002

Mr. President,

The discussion on unilateral extraterritorial coercive measures has continued for too many years. The Assembly has before it the Report of the Secretary General which once again provides the responses from States concerning this important issue.

In 1996, in preparation for the Report of the Secretary General to the 52nd Session, the Holy See made its contribution and my Delegation believes that this is an appropriate opportunity to once again bring that response to the attention of this Assembly.

"The Holy See, because of its particular nature, does not have economic and trade relations with other States. However, by means of the articulation of its clear and principled stand on the question of the imposition of international economic sanctions and other means of political and economic coercion, especially by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, as well as through its diplomatic activity in this area, it has sought to alleviate the distress suffered by civilian populations that are either directly or indirectly affected by the imposition of such measures".

"The Holy See considers it to be legitimate for the international community to resort to economic sanctions when confronted with a specific Government that has acted in a manner that places world peace in danger".

"However, the Holy See holds that there are several conditions that must accompany the imposition of such sanctions, namely, sanctions may not be a means of warfare or punishment of a people; sanctions should be a temporary means of exerting pressure on Governments whose choices threaten international peace; sanctions must be proportionate to the goals they hope to achieve; and sanctions must always be accompanied by a dialogue between the parties involved".

"His Holiness Pope John Paul II has stated that the embargo, clearly defined by law, is an instrument that needs to be used with great discernment and it must be subjected to strict legal and ethical criteria. It is always imperative to foresee the humanitarian consequences of sanctions, without failing to respect the just proportion that such measures should have in relation to the very evil that they are meant to remedy. A mechanism should be introduced that would allow for independent and effective control of the humanitarian consequences of sanctions and subsequently establish ways to correct those effects. The legitimate decision by the international community never dispenses with the due attention that must be paid to the concrete fate of the civilian population" (A/52/459).

Mr. President, the position of the Holy See has not changed and it aligns itself with those other States who continue to call for the end of unjust and harmful measures directed at states, not only on the basis of national sovereignty, relations to trade or economic matters but most especially on the basis of the recognition of the human dignity and the right to life, liberty and security.

Even as the discussion continues, the Holy See will renew its commitment and joins with other governments in pledging to ensure that food and medicine are never used as tools for political pressure.

Mr President,

By its very title "Coercive economic measures as a means of compulsion" a dark shadow is cast over any result that one state might hope to accomplish. There is something almost sinister at work when force, coercion and compulsion are at work as a means to an end. This is not the way of a civilized world, it can not be acceptable within the Family of Nations and it should never be condoned, under any circumstances.

Thank you, Mr. President.