Stemma Episcopale

Stemma Episcopale
Questo e lo Stemma Episcopale del ArciVescovo Mons. Silvano Maria Tomasi, missionario Scalabriniano. Lo stemma ricorda il patrono della congeregazione Scalabriniana voluto dal Beato G.B. Scalabrini, San Carlo Borremeo nel suo stemma ce questa scritta Humilitas.

domenica 30 gennaio 2011

General Debate Item 3 of the 14th Session of the Human Rights Council


Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the

Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

at the General Debate Item 3 of the 14th Session of the Human Rights Council

Geneva, 8 June 2010

Mr. President,

With regard to the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, my delegation wishes to raise additional concerns regarding the need for effective action in order to guarantee Universal Access to medicines and diagnostic tools for all persons. The Special Rapporteur focused on this issue during his Report to the Eleventh Session of this distinguished Council[1]. However, continued vigilance must be maintained in this regard.

As the members of this Council already are well aware, the right to health is universally recognized as a fundamental right. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) includes the right to health and medical care within the more general rubric of the right “to enjoy an adequate standard of living.”[2] Article 12.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), however, directly recognizes the right to enjoy the best physical and mental condition.[3].

The Committee on Economic and Cultural Rights, in its General Comment No. 14[4], moreover, identified the following minimum requirements for States to ensure: (1) the right of access to health care in a non-discriminatory way, (2) access to basic nutritional level, (3) access to housing, basic sanitation and a sufficient supply of drinking water, (4) the supply of essential drugs, (5) an equitable distribution of benefits and health services, and (6) adoption of national strategies to prevent and combat epidemics.

Mr. President, the Catholic Church provides a major contribution to health care in all parts of the world – through local churches, religious institutions and private initiatives, which act on their own responsibility and in the respect of the law of each country – including the promotion of 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 dispensaries and clinics, 521 leprosaria, and 15,448 homes for the aged, the chronically ill, or disabled people. With information coming from these on-the-ground realities in some of the most poor, isolated, and marginalized communities, my delegation is obliged to report that the rights detailed in the international instruments already mentioned are far from being realized.

One major impediment to the realization of these rights is the lack of access to affordable medicines and diagnostic tools that can be administered and utilized in low-income, low-technology settings. Among the disturbing trends and findings reported by the Special Rapporteur are the following: “Diseases of poverty” still account for 50 per cent of the burden of disease in developing countries, nearly ten times higher than in developed countries[5]; more than 100 million people fall into poverty annually because they have to pay for health care[6]; in developing countries, patients themselves pay for 50 to 90 per cent of essential medicines[7]; nearly 2 billion people lack access to essential medicines [8].

One group particularly deprived of access to medicines is that of children. Many essential medicines have not been developed in appropriate formulations or dosages specific to pediatric use. Thus families and health care workers often are forced to engage in a “guessing game” on how best to divide adult-size pills for use with children. This situation can result in the tragic loss of life or continued chronic illness among such needy children. For example, of the 2.1 million children estimated to be living with HIV infection[9], only 38% were received life-saving anti-retroviral medications at the end of 2008[10]. This treatment gap is partially due to the lack of “child friendly” medications to treat the HIV infection.

Thus the Committee on the Rights of the Child has declared: “The obligations of States parties under the Convention extend to ensuring that children have sustained and equal access to comprehensive treatment and care, including necessary HIV-related drugs … on a basis of non-discrimination.[11]

My delegation is well aware of the complexities inherent in the intellectual property aspects related to the issue of access to medicines. These considerations, including the flexibilities available to applying the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, are well documented in the 2009 Report of the Special Rapporteur. We further recognize that serious efforts already have been undertaken to implement the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, established in 2008 by the 61stWorld Health Assembly. However, the intense debates recently pursued at the 63rd World Health Assembly demonstrate that the international community has not yet succeeded in its aim to provide equitable access to medicines and indicate the need for further creative reflection and action in this regard.

Mr. President, my delegation urges this Council to renew its commitment as a key stakeholder in efforts to assert and safeguard the right to health by guaranteeing equitable access to essential medicines. We do so with a firm conviction that “… treatment should be extended to every human being” and as an essential element of “the search for the greatest possible human development… and with a strong belief that “[t]his ethical perspective [is] based on the dignity of the human person and on the fundamental rights and duties connected with it …”[12]

[1] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health to the Eleventh Session of the Human Rights Council, Eleventh Session, A/HRC/11/12, 31 March 2009

[4] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Twenty-second session, Geneva, 25 April-12 May 2000, E/C.12/2000/4, 11 August 2000,

[5] World Health Organization, Public Health Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights, A Report of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (Geneva, 2006) p. 3.

[6] World Health Organization, World Health Report, Primary Health Care Now More than Ever (Geneva, 2008).

[7] A/61/338, para. 75.

[8] World Health Organization, “WHO Medicines Strategy: Countries at the Core, 2004-2007”, (2004).

[9] UNAIDS, 2009 AIDS Epidemic Update, Geneva, November 2009.

[10] Children and AIDS: Fourth Stocktaking Report, UNICEF, 2009, p. 10.

[11] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Thirty-Second Session, General Comment No. 3 (2003), HIV/AIDS and the rights of the child, CRC/GC/2003/3,$FILE/G0340816.pdf

[12] Pope Benedict XVI, Address To The Plenary Assembly Of The Pontifical Council For Health Pastoral Care, 22 March 2007,

General Debate Item 3 of the 13th Session of the Human Rights Council


Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the

Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

at the General Debate Item 3 of the 13th Session of the Human Rights Council

Geneva, 12th March 2010

Mr. President,

Three weeks ago the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the permanent Committee of al-Azhar University for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions held the annual meeting of their Joint Committee for Dialogue in Cairo (23-24 February). In their joint declaration the participants recommended paying “greater attention to the fact that the manipulation of religion for political or other ends can be a source of violence”, and avoiding “discrimination on the basis of religious identity”.

Mr. President, in a number of countries freedom of religion is not yet fully guaranteed. Recent surveys indicate that nearly 70 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities. The latter’s rights are seriously violated, their freedom of worship hampered. In some regions followers of minority religions, that are not recognized by law, have to confess their faith in hiding and illegally, in fear of prison terms and persecution. In other places, while the right to freedom of religion is legally recognized, religious minorities are harassed and persecuted by members of the majority religion. Their properties are damaged, their houses of worship are destroyed, their lives severely threatened. These criminal acts are often committed in total impunity. Authorities stand idly by or are partisans in the conflict. Victims are forced to desist from reporting the injustice done to them for fear of further negative repercussions. Perpetrators harassing religious minorities feel encouraged by the silent collusion of State authorities and by a judicial system that is ineffective or partial. The limitation clauses in international instruments should not be used in a disproportionate manner to strike at the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and political opponents but only to protect and promote the human rights of all.

The Holy See calls therefore upon States to respect and promote the right to freedom of religion in all its aspects, through national legislation, including appropriate sanctions against violators to eradicate impunity effectively.

Mr. President, victims of discrimination and violent attacks have a right to obtain redress and compensation for the harm done to them by public or private agents. The State has the responsibility of protecting the fundamental human rights of all people in its territory. In order to obtain just redress, standard and objective methods should be laid down in national legislation for working out retribution and relief measures. As long as the State is not able or willing to provide effective legal protection for all its citizens, the continuous persecution of ethnic and religious minority communities will continue to afflict the world and to weaken the human rights of everyone.

Mr. President, in his address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps last January, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI underlined that “sadly, in certain countries, (…) one increasingly encounters in political and cultural circles, as well as in the media, scarce respect and at times hostility, if not scorn, directed towards religion (…). It is clear that if relativism is considered an essential element of democracy, one risks viewing secularity solely in the sense of excluding or, more precisely, denying the social importance of religion. But such an approach creates confrontation and division, disturbs peace, harms human ecology and, by rejecting in principle approaches other than its own, finishes in a dead end. There is thus an urgent need to delineate a positive and open secularity which, grounded in the just autonomy of the temporal order and the spiritual order, can foster healthy cooperation and a spirit of shared responsibility.”

Mr. President, the way forward rests on an effective implementation of all human rights by recognizing and respecting the dignity of each human being, without distinction of ethnicity or religion; on rejection of all forms of discrimination on the ground of race, colour, sex or religion; on fair treatment in the courts; on an educational system that teaches peaceful coexistence built on mutual respect, solidarity and cooperation as means that promote a healthy social pluralism and a prosperous life for all members of our one human family.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Réunion des Hautes Parties contractantes à la CCW


Intervention de S.E. Mgr Silvano M. Tomasi, Nonce Apostolique et Représentant Permanent du Saint-Siège auprès de l’Office des Nations Unies à Genève,

à la Réunion des Hautes Parties contractantes à la CCW

Genève, 25-26 novembre 2010

Monsieur le Président,

1. La délégation du Saint-Siège voudrait vous exprimer ses félicitations pour votre élection et vous apporte son soutien afin de parvenir, tous ensemble, à répondre aux attentes de nos populations, des hommes et des femmes, qui sont les victimes des conflits armés. C’est de notre responsabilité collective de créer les conditions nécessaires pour mieux les protéger. La CCW est l’un des forums qui devrait jouer un rôle crédible pour répondre aux attentes pressantes. La CCW n’est pas un monde à part. Elle est un instrument au service des objectifs humanitaires.

2. La protection des populations civiles en temps de guerre et de conflits armés a accompagné l’humanité tout au long de son histoire mais à des degrés d’acceptabilité variable des souffrances infligées. Par contre, ce qui est nouveau c’est la prise de conscience que la sécurité n’est pas que militaire. Le soi disant équilibre entre les considérations militaires et humanitaires est presque impossible à définir et à déterminer avant de voir les résultats d’une action militaire. A partir de quel nombre de morts, de blessés et d’handicapés on peut parler de comportement militaire inacceptable ? A partir de combien de destruction des infrastructure, des sources de subsistance et de traumatismes on peut commencer à dire que l’équilibre est cassé ? Si toute action militaire a pour seul objectif la défense nationale, elle ne peut qu’incorporer une dimension humanitaire primordiale qui prend en considération les conséquences immédiates et les conséquences post-conflit. La défense des intérêts de sécurité nationale ne peut pas et ne devrait pas tout justifier.

3. Dans cette perspective, les travaux du Groupe d’experts gouvernementaux de la CCW qui travaille depuis quelques années sur la questions des sous munitions n’a pas pu trouver la réponse adéquate aux problèmes humanitaires que posent ces armes précisément à cause de la confusion entre les intérêts militaires et l’urgence humanitaire. Cette délégation considère que le texte actuel du Président du Groupe est loin de répondre à l’urgence exprimée par le mandat.

Je voudrais profiter de cette occasion pour remercier M. Gary Domingo pour son engagement, son dynamisme et sa disponibilité afin de faire avancer les négociations dans la bonne direction.

4. Le coût des conflits armés, au-delà du coût humain impossible à évaluer, sont exorbitants. Il est toujours plus judicieux, plus sage de prévenir que de remédier. Cette délégation a toujours plaidé pour une approche préventive. Dans cette perspective, je voudrais souligner l’importance particulière d’avoir une approche restrictive sur les transferts de sous munitions. La proposition de négocier un arrangement sur les transferts présente un intérêt humanitaire évident et il serait dommage de ne pas donner suite à cette proposition d’une manière ou d’une autre.

5. Pour conclure, Monsieur le Président, je voudrais appeler tous les Etats Parties à la CCW à entamer une réflexion collective pour réformer et mieux adapter cette institution après trente ans de sa création. Il est temps de tirer les conséquences, comme tous les pays du monde l’ont fait dans beaucoup de domaines, des changements profonds des dernières décennies et qui ont eu un effet évident sur de nombreuses enceintes du désarmement et sur la manière de leur fonctionnement. La Conférence d’examen de 2011 est l’occasion toute indiquée pour prendre les décisions nécessaires qui rendent la CCW encore plus crédible et plus efficace dans son effort continu à mieux protéger les populations de tous les pays qui seraient dans des situations de conflits armés.

Monsieur le Président je vous remercie.

martedì 5 ottobre 2010

61st Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva
at the 61st Session of the Executive Committee of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Geneva, 5 October 2010

Mr. Chairman

1. The Delegation of the Holy See extends its congratulations and thanks to you and in this 60th anniversary year of the Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and General Assembly Resolution 428, thanks the High Commissioner and his staff for the protection and assistance rendered to persons of concern throughout the world.

2. The first task imposed by the Statutes of the Office of the High Commissioner was to promote “the conclusion and ratification of international conventions for the protection of refugees.” As we are all aware the year 2011 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. A major response has been given.

3. Mr. Chairman, the Statute imposes upon the High Commissioner the duty to “improve the situation of refugees”. Of course, this is a responsibility shared with States, and over the years much has been accomplished. We were dismayed, however, to read in last year’s report on Global Strategic Priorities (EC/60/SC/INF.2) that at the time of writing there had been 1,777 credible reports of refoulement occurring in at least 60 countries. These numbers did not reflect the tragic events occurring to some asylum seekers at the end of 2009. Were it possible also to consider unreported cases of refoulement and ‘push-back’ to unsafe countries, we would be face-to-face with a protection deficit of considerable proportion. All of us need to reflect seriously and remain engaged in how to give priority to people even though protection space is shrinking.

4. In the words of the Statute, refugees, persons needing and desiring international protection, are within “the competence” of the High Commissioner, especially within the context of his particular competence by using his good offices to seek and frame solutions for refugees and other persons of concern. Recent initiatives on assuring protection in contexts of mixed migration, including regional and international processes to actualize the 10 Point Plan of Action, have wisely engaged the range of actors in states, international organizations and NGOs, and have been of increasing practical value. My Delegation would further welcome the adoption of an Executive Committee Conclusion about persons of concern with disabilities. At the same time, we wish to encourage the High Commissioner in his endeavors to address the problems of birth registration for people of concern.

5. Commitments to current solutions, however, are not sufficient, a fact painfully evident in today’s 36 and a half million persons of concern to the UNHCR and, among them, in the distress of so many millions of refugees in protracted situations. Even with the welcome commitment to formal new resettlement programs by a number of countries, resettlement places worldwide have fallen to a level less than half of the resettlement need that UNHCR has identified for the coming year. The solution of resettlement merits greater support, as do voluntary repatriation and local integration, where numbers have also been low. With this in mind, my Delegation is supportive of the High Commissioner’s exploration of channels of legal labour migration to provide additional refugee solutions. Indeed, refugees tell us how important legal livelihoods are to their own search for solutions and, as we all see, more than a few choose to go in this direction even outside of legal channels. The sine qua non of such a “fourth durable solution” however would have to be specific attention to the unique and enduring protection need of the refugees.

6. Mr. Chairman, refugee protection is inextricably linked to recognition of status as a refugee. The Holy See continues to be alarmed by the trend among developed nations to externalize status determination procedures, especially to places with records of violation of human rights. A convergence of efforts seems called for to develop criteria of protection for vulnerable forcibly uprooted people still left in the gray areas of the law. My Delegation also deeply regrets the practice of detention of asylum seekers. This is particularly lamentable when it results in the separation of families and or the detention of children. We are pleased by UNHCR’s participation and leadership in the roundtable on alternatives to detention which was held in Seoul, in April of this year. Before leaving the topic of status determination, my Delegation notes that in far too many States the responsibility for status determination is still left with UNHCR, even in States which are party to the Convention. While States need to undertake this duty, UNHCR has to ensure that all procedural and other safeguards it recommends to others in regard to status determination, particularly the assistance of counsel and right to a meaningful appeal process, be present in its status determination procedures.

7. The world and the High Commissioner’s responsibilities have moved on since 1950. The General Assembly has encouraged the High Commissioner to extend his good offices on behalf of conflict-induced internally displaced persons. In 2009 for the first time, there were more internally displaced persons of concern to UNHCR than refugees. Like refugees, IDPs as presently defined are the product of violations of human rights which are part and parcel of any armed conflict. Any durable solution for IDPs must be based on recognition and protection of human rights.

8. Mr. Chairman in this year the two largest displacements of persons have been the result of natural disasters: the January 12th earthquake in Port-au-Prince and the enormous flooding in Pakistan. My delegation compliments the role UNHCR played in coordinating protection and assistance in each of these calamities.

9. Lastly, Mr. Chairman, we are reminded that the Statute instructs the High Commissioner “to reduce the number requiring protection.” Such a reduction can only come about through the recognition, defense, and fostering of human rights, be they political, social, cultural or economic. This way of avoiding destructive conflicts and of safeguarding the dignity of every person is the main road to promote the common good in any country and in the global community and the best prevention of forced displacement.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.