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from issue no. 10 - 2003

Notes from the U.N.

The time of reforms and the Holy See

October 2003. Reforms are being looked at. As a result of some declarations and the adoption of positions by Holy See personalities, it is possible to describe the position of the Holy See at the United Nations (where it is not a member but is represented through a Permanent Observer).
In a recent public declaration, the Permanent Observer reaffirmed that when solutions are adopted without general consent it is obvious that the system does not function as it should. And it is also equally clear that it is not worth while continuing like this. There is no need for a super-government at the UN, but of a line of conduct agreed between the member countries. The Secretary General, whoever he may be, steers in the direction that has been entrusted to him. It is clear we are going through a moment of profound crisis, but it is to be hoped that not every crisis brings only damage and that after the bad the good may come. From this fifty-eight session of the General Assembly, then, creative proposals of reform are awaited, but always based on good political sense. This means a more democratic and representative Security Council, a greater political and deliberative weight to the Assembly and an Economic and Social Council really efficient in dealing with poverty, the decline in living standards and the numerous inter-state wars. All the problems that world citizens feel daily in their own flesh, much more than the war against terrorism or the arms of mass destruction. Up to this point the public declarations.
The big question is whether one can achieve reform through compromise or whether the gap is unfortunately unbridgable. It has already been said that creativity is needed. In what sense? For years reform has been more or less openly discussed. Why are the experts nurturing greater hope today? Because there has been a profound crisis which is inducing members in the United Nations to formulate proposals of serious good sense (for a greater democratization of the central government, for example).
Many delegations are determined to work in primis for the happy outcome of the institutional reforms and, at the same time, for implementation in the field of human rights and social justice. A result obtainable, also according to the Holy See, only if it is clear to all that the premiss is multi-lateralism and the sense of interdependence.
If this is the prospect, what happened at the WTO Conference in Cancun, marked by the emergence of a political subject other than the Atlantic and European poles, consisting of the axis led by Brazil, China, India, South Africa and others, appears to be a good sign and creates a space where not only those who claim greater interests or have larger resources count.

On 7 October, at the proposal of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See, a symposium will be held on the encyclical Pacem in Terris by John XXIII, seen as a historic manifesto in favor of a wider representation at the United Nations, and a stimulus, at this time of reforms, for greater democracy, while conserving the common fundamental principles.
At the symposium – whose guests include Kofi Anan, Jean-Louis Tauran and Raffaele Martino – the 25th jubilee of this pontificate will also be celebrated: this Pope has twice visited the UN, giving his celebrated speech on the rights of peoples in 1995, and has frequently received the Secretary General.
In this context the “Servitor pacis” prize will be awarded posthumously to Professor Carlo Urbani, among the discoverers of the SARS virus ( it will be received by his son Thomas) and to the sisters of Mother Teresa resident in Baghdad. During the days of war, along with other Catholic charities, the sisters continued to take in those who had most need and the many orphans made by the bombing.
The Church asks for peace, for itself and for the world.

At the prayer service held the evening before the last session of the General Assembly was due to open, the Permanent Observer, in reading the message sent by the Pope through Cardinal Sodano prayed, among other things, that «we may be rooted in reality, humble …. in respect for the reality of our world. We ask to be freed from fear … and, finally, we pray to be permeated by that hope which helps us to surprize in this present world something that transcends us, which by ourselves we would not be capable of seeing and grasping».

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