Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, praised the June report of the UN Secretary General António Guterres on repositioning of the UN development apparatus so that it may better advance the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, saying that it will enhance the system’s effectiveness, cohesion, leadership and accountability.
His comments came on October 25, 2017, during the debate of the Second Committee of the General Assembly dedicated to Agenda Item 24, entitled “Operational Activities for Development,” at the United Nations in New York.
He said that the UN development system must better account for the local situations of those it is assisting, place their needs above process, donors’ national interests, and various forms of ideological colonization that fail to respond to the right to life and to freedom of religion, culture, history, beliefs and values of those in developing nations. Development aid should be given in ways consonant with the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement and the upcoming Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees.
Here is the Archbishop’s statement:
Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Seventy-second Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee
Agenda Item 24: Operational activities for development
New York, 25 October 2017
The June report of the Secretary-General on “Repositioning the UN development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda: Ensuring a Better Future for All” represents a significant step forward in his overall reform agenda toward renewing the development system. The innovative, action-oriented, report builds on past achievements of the UN development system, including the creation of the UN Development Group and the launch of the “Delivery as One” initiative and seeks to help the system reach its full potential as it faces new challenges.
Through the adoption of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) last December, Member States emphasized the need to strengthen the development system and set a framework to assist countries better in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Secretary-General’s report, with its 38 concrete ideas and actions, responds to the QCPR mandates and offers a preliminary roadmap for change to enhance the system’s effectiveness, cohesion, leadership and accountability.
To make that happen, however, the renewed development system must focus on the local situation of a country and of its people. Repositioning the development system requires a system-wide review that takes into account the development needs of each country and ensures that its response will fit the context rather than be a “one size fits all.”
As the Secretary-General aptly emphasized, the main objective of this renewal is “to focus more on people and less on the process, more on results for the most poor and excluded and less on bureaucracy, more on integrated support of the 2030 Agenda and less on business as usual.” Indeed, focusing more on people means not only protecting them from heinous crimes but also placing them ahead of all national and geopolitical interests and fulfilling all the international political commitments undertaken along the history of the United Nations that relate to social and economic development, starting with those contained in the Charter of the United Nations to those contained in the most recent documents, in particular, the very ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, and those that will be enshrined in future agreements, notably the Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees.
Putting people always first means protecting, at every stage and in every circumstance, the dignity of the person, and its human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in a specific way, the rights to life and to freedom of religion from which all other rights flow and which are therefore the common foundation of the pillars of peace, security and integral human development. These two human rights are indivisible from those other rights and fundamental freedoms relating to a dignified spiritual, material and intellectual life for each citizen and for their families – among others, the right to food, the right to water, the right for housing, the right to a safe environment and the right to work.
Each people has its own culture, history, beliefs and values that must be respected. Development programs should not carry with them or be conditioned by controversial ideas that aim to change the local culture or system of values. Giving financial aid conditioned by the introduction of ideas and cultures not in consonance with the beneficiaries’ value system is what Pope Francis called “ideological colonization.”
The Holy See is ready to contribute to the process of renewing the UN development system, in particular through sharing its knowledge of local situations and needs. As Pope Francis stated during his visit a few days ago to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), “The Catholic Church, through her institutions, and having a direct and concrete knowledge of the situations to be confronted and of the needs to be addressed, wishes to participate directly in this effort by virtue of her mission.”
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
2. A/72/124–E/2018/3, 13b.
3. Secretary-General’s remarks to Economic and Social Council on Repositioning the UN Development System to Deliver on the 2030 Agenda, 5 July 2017 (https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2017-07-05/secretary-generals-remarks-economic-and-social-council-repositioning).
4. Charter of the United Nations, paragraph 4 of the Preamble, article 1.3 and chapter IX.
5. Pope Francis, Address at Meeting with Families, Manila (16 January 2015).
6. Pope Francis, Visit to the Headquarters of FAO on the occasion of World Food Day, 16 October 2017.
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