The Holy See
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(29 november - 3 december 1999)


Vienna - December 10, 1999



Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See is pleased to congratulate you and to praise the Director General and his Collaborators on the progress already achieved in consolidating UNIDO and implementing the reforms, which find their expression today in the organization of this Forum. At the same time, we would like to express our best wishes to you for further progress and development.

In his first Encyclical Letter, exactly 20 years ago, Pope John, Paul II wrote that "Man is the way for the Church". He further added: "Economic development… must be constantly programmed and realized within a perspective of universal joint development of each individual and people...; at the basis of this gigantic sector, it is necessary to establish, accept and deepen the sense of moral responsibility, which man must undertake. Again and always man ". (Redemptor Hominis, n.16 )

For us, indeed, any economic and industrial development, must have the development of the human being himself as its core objective. Economic development reaches its goal only if it brings in its wake opportunities for a better life and more humane conditions for man. On this point, the Church is in total agreement with the basic principles of human rights which, in this day and age, are accepted worldwide as inalienable and which, in fact, lie at the base of UNIDO's efforts and those of other similar international organizations.

Contribution of the Church

The Church has always made an effort, in all its activities and undertakings, to respect all the dimensions of the human being and promote social development. One example is the promotion of producer cooperatives in many areas of the world. An important new development, within this context, is the support it gives to the formation of larger unions that allow producers in developing countries to reach consumers in Europe. Such institutions allow for the attainment of several goals at the same time: producers get a fair price for their products (e.g. coffee, cocoa, handicrafts etc.), which in turn allows them to gain a surplus which is then used to benefit their communities. It also enables them to produce in a more environmentally friendly and thus sustainable way; giving the consumers, as a result, the opportunity to buy wholly natural products. Such projects are often carried out in cooperation with national and international institutions and organizations.

A further example of the Church's efforts to promote small enterprises, is the support given to unions of entrepreneurs and managers. It provides, in many developing countries, financial support to initially help start and run small businesses effectively, as well as provides for ongoing on the job education..

Some negative effects of globalization

As for industrial development, we know that not every new industrial project is necessarily of benefit to the local population. Often the wages they receive are not even sufficient for an individual's daily needs, let alone the needs of an entire family. Moreover, working conditions often do not respect human dignity, although dignity at the workplace is the acquired right of every human being. In particular, it is the many young women, as well as children deprived of a normal life who work in such enterprises in order to support their families, who are exposed to and exploited by these conditions, where they have to work extremely hard for very low wages.

The Delegation of the Holy See therefore, urges you, the participants in UNIDO's General. Assembly, to use all your influence, in order that minimum standards of humane working conditions be laid down for industrial workers in various countries, through the means of internationally acceptable and binding contracts.

Concern for the poorest

All studies show that the gap between rich and poor nations and countries of the world, is widening drastically. Especially of concern are those countries whose efforts for sustainable development have been ruined by wars and armed conflicts as is the case, for example, of many African countries, who are on the list of the most disadvantaged. We wish to renew a strong condemnation of arms smuggling which perpetuates conflicts and is strengthened by the perverse circuit of exchange of weapons for drugs. However, my Delegation has noted with satisfaction that UNIDO devotes an essential part of its activities to Africa, and we would like to urge and encourage the Organization to increase these efforts and at the same time to assume a role of supervision to prevent the diversion of resources aimed at the civil progress of the nations.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, as it was said recently by Pope John Paul II to a group of economists (VIS, Nov. 20, 1999), it is necessary to harmonize the needs of economy with those of ethics. It is urgent to recognize, guard and promote the primacy of the human person.

I thank you for your kind attention.


*L’Osservatore Romano, 11.12.1999 p.2.

L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in English 2000 n.10 p.10.