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.

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.

venerdì 1 ottobre 2010

15th Session of the Human Rights Council – Item 9

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 15th Session of the Human Rights Council – Item 9
Geneva, 28 September 2010

Mr. President,
1.- Religion has taken up greater visibility in the public arena in recent years. A widely spread anti-religious attitude, however, favors some manifestations linked to discrimination and prejudice, as the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance has documented, and this raises complex questions of human rights. My Delegation would like to clarify the interplay and the contradiction between abstract claims and real violations of rights that appear on several instances of public discourse about religion.
2.- The free expression of general or personal considerations in terms of public debate, or of cultural, philosophical and theological dialogue cannot be regarded tout court as a form of defamation of religions, or as forms of incitement to hatred against a religion or a community of believers. Freedom of thought and expression, including freedom to criticize, when exercised within the limits of accuracy, fairness, respect, public morality and order, can be considered a gain of civilization to be protected as a common political and juridical patrimony of humanity, not only as a prerogative of a particular social context or a particular cultural tradition. The development and self-realization of the human person entails, as an essential component, the expression and sharing of her vision of reality. To deny this right would mortify one of the deepest aspirations of the human person and a key factor for the progress of all civilizations.
3.- We must also distinguish the theoretical level, namely the abstract level of values and of philosophical or religious principles, from the existential level, i.e. the practical level where these values and principles affect individuals and communities of human beings. The focus of human rights should be on the human person and human communities. The State of law and human rights have as a mandate the protection and promotion of the dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals and communities of persons. The systems of values and principles, shared by individuals and communities of persons, are something good, also in the perspective of politics and law, but always if functional to the protection of individuals and communities of persons, not vice versa.
4.- Respect for people and communities of persons then is not fulfilled by a mere "preservation" or formal "immunization" from criticism of the systems of values and principles, but by a substantive promotion and affirmation of fundamental rights and freedoms. Thus freedom of expression, including freedom to criticize, does not deny the rights of persons or communities of persons. It is rather an element of the rule of law which includes freedom of religion and belief, and the prohibition of discrimination based on religion or belief. In this context, attention should focus on the people and communities of persons to see how their rights are protected de facto, beyond the preservation of a given system of values or principles, cultural or religious, whether majority or minority.
5.- The positions of extreme individualism and collectivism offer a partial view of the human person: the first leads her to isolation, the second cancels and absorbs her into the abstract idea of a social or ideological collectivity. These two perspectives do not allow for dialogue, rather make it impossible, because both counter the reality of human nature. The human being has its own uniqueness and originality but is open by nature to relationships with others. Only in these relationships he is fulfilled as a person. As the great civilizations of the world teach, the human person is a "social being" that is fully realized only in the community, starting with the family up to all levels of society and thus to the national and international dimensions. In coherence with nature and human dignity, the community is not a limit to freedom and realization; on the contrary, it is the living space from which the person realizes and expresses her freedom, in which the person pursues her material , ethical and spiritual development, and in turn contributes to the development of the communities she belongs to, and ultimately to the entire human society.
6.- When the social and communitarian dimension is denied, an essential component of the person is mortified and mutilated. History teaches us and documents the negative consequences when this aspect of the person is kept away or denied by ideology. When ideology reconstructs the human being as an abstraction, the dignity and human rights of the real person are radically violated and emptied of content from the inside. The road to the future, even in its religious dimension, passes through the understanding of the person and her natural vocation toward community, therefore through the full protection and full affirmation of human rights in their twofold and inseparable individual and communitarian dimensions.
7.- The main responsibility of the State is the protection of its citizens and all persons, especially those under its jurisdiction. State laws must protect concrete persons even in their community requirements, that are inseparable from the person. In the current debate levels are often confused so that ideologies are defended and the persons and communities of persons sometimes are not adequately protected. National legislation must be effective in protecting the rights of all persons within its jurisdiction. This implies that in the educational system, in the judicial system, in political participation, in access to employment, in a word, that in the civil and political society, religion must not be a reason for discrimination. “Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation” . True defamation of a religion is when it is manipulated and transformed into an ideology of discrimination against concrete persons and communities of persons.
Mr. President,
8.- In conclusion, new forms of dialogue and education should be found to identify and promote shared values and universal principles, consistent with the dignity and social nature of the human person, directed to the common good and at building a society in which there is a concrete space for the rights and fundamental freedoms of persons and communities of persons. “…there are many areas in which the Church {all religions} and the public authorities can work together for the good of citizens…” . My Delegation agrees with that recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, according to which we have to anchor the debate in the relevant existing international legal framework and thus ensure a peaceful future for all.

Thank you, Mr. President

48th Series of Meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s General Assemblies

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 48th Series of Meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s
General Assemblies
Geneva, 21 September 2010

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See greatly appreciates that the focus of attention of this High Level Segment of the 48th Series of Meetings of the WIPO’s General Assemblies is directed to the critical issues of innovation, growth and development: enhanced creativity opens new concrete options for all.

The raison d’être of the protection system of intellectual property is the promotion of literary, scientific or artistic production and, generally, of inventive activity for the sake of the “common good”. Thus protection officially attests the right of the author or inventor to recognition of the ownership of his work and to a degree of economic reward. At the same time it serves the cultural and material progress of society as a whole. According to article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”. In the end, intellectual property protection recognizes the dignity of man and his work that becomes an expression of, and a contribution to, the growth of the individual personality and to the common good.

Economists recognize several mechanisms through which Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) may stimulate economic development: these are interdependent so that a broad view of incentives associated with IPRs is appropriate. They devote much attention to this issue, but evidence to date is fragmented and somewhat contradictory, in part because many of the concepts involved have not yet been measured. A stronger system of protection could either enhance or limit economic growth. While strengthening IPRs has potential for enhancing growth and development in the proper circumstances, it might also raise difficult economic and social costs. Indeed, developing economies could experience net welfare losses in the short run because many of the costs of protection could emerge earlier than the dynamic benefits. This situation explains why it is often difficult to organize a convergence of interests in favor of reform of intellectual property in developing countries.

The adoption of stronger IPRs in developing countries is often defended by claims that this reform will attract significant new inflows of technology, a blossoming of local innovation and cultural industries, and a faster closing of the technology gap between developing and developed countries. It must be recognized, however, that improved IPRs by itself is highly unlikely to produce such benefits.

The increase of benefits deriving to countries from IPRs depends on their ability to absorb and develop technologies and new products. In this context, three issues are critical for development purposes. First, it is clear that the ability to adapt new technologies to local industrial uses is improved if it meets with high levels of education and an adequate qualified human capital. Thus, there are important payoffs in providing access to technical training and secondary or university education. Second, the absorption of foreign technologies to enhance productivity, in a critical way, depends on the Research and Development (R&D) performance of local enterprises. This observation points to the importance of developing an effective technology policy for promoting technical change in domestic enterprises. Such programs could include technology demonstration projects, information sharing through conferences, the encouragement of research, joint ventures, and improved linkages between public research institutes and enterprises.

Third, in many countries a relevant problem is the inability of research institutes to bring their inventions to market in a useful way. Stronger IPRs alone would help in this context, but so also would development contracts between institutes and enterprises with defined ownership shares and increased flexibility for researchers to form new business concerns. Last but not least, it is also important for countries to encourage the development of financial markets in such a way that they become capable of managing the significant risks involved in technology development.

Mr. President,

These few observations want to underline the conviction that the main goal of the international community in developing a fair regime of intellectual property rights should aim toward the good of all, the pursuit of more equitable international relations, especially with regard to poorer and more vulnerable people. Of this goal we are reminded by Pope Benedict’s latest Encyclical Letter: “…in the context of immaterial or cultural causes of development and underdevelopment, we find these same patterns of responsibility reproduced. On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care. At the same time, in some poor countries, cultural models and social norms of behaviour persist which hinder the process of development.”

15th 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 Interactive Dialogue on Human Rights
of the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 16 September 2010

Mr. President,

Please allow me to begin by thanking the Independent Expert for her Report on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to, and delivery of, safe drinking water and sanitation services and the responsibility of the participation of non-State service providers in this context.
The availability of fresh water has now become correlated more obviously to human rights like the right to life and health. While in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the international community has set itself the goal of halving by 2015 the number of people globally without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, nearly 900 million people today continue to rely on unimproved water sources for their drinking, cooking and other basic needs. Today, approximately 2.5 billion people around the world—approximately half the developing world—are unserved by improved sanitation conditions. As a result, nearly 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die annually from diarrhoeal diseases (such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery) attributable to a lack of safe drinking water and basic sanitation options. Many other human illnesses can be traced back directly to the inadequate supply of fresh water for drinking and basic hygiene .
Many obstacles impede progress toward achieving the proposed goals, not least the inability of administrators to ensure a fair distribution of water resources in the peripheral areas and slums of large urban centres because of lack of funding or technical capacity. Poor people often suffer, not so much from a scarcity of water itself, but rather from the economic inability to access it . According to current and prevalent thinking, water primarily is regarded as a commodity, and its price should be based on the principle of profit. This concept is based on the theory that the cost of everything usable must be covered by the consumer, the one who pulls a utility from its use. Thus, in line with such thinking, even the poorest people should “pay” for access to the fifty liters of drinking water considered by the World Health Organization for minimal daily subsistence. But it is impossible today to talk about "common good", or about respect for fundamental human rights, without taking into account the right to live in a healthy environment. Water is a social, economic and environmental asset whose management must be based on social responsibility, a mentality of ecological behaviour and of solidarity within countries and globally. The dignity and wellbeing of the human person must be the central point of convergence of all issues related to development, environment, and water. It follows that access to water should be available to everyone now and in the future since without it people cannot be actors of their own development. In particular, everyone, including the poor, should be engaged in decisions and policy-making related to water management.
The fight against poverty and hunger requires more and more targeted interventions and solidarity in order to guarantee universal access to water for personal survival, health, and for the development of agriculture and the production of food. Thus the Catholic Church teaches that “by its very nature water cannot be treated as just another commodity among many, and it must be used rationally and in solidarity with others. The distribution of water is traditionally among the responsibilities that fall to public agencies, since water is considered a public good. If water distribution is entrusted to the private sector it should still be considered a public good…. Without water, life is threatened. Therefore, the right to safe drinking water is a universal and inalienable right”.

Mr. President, once again we state our appreciation for the Report presented to the Council. In conclusion, my Delegation would like to underscore the State’s and the private sector’s synergy and responsibility in sub-contracting water and sanitation services and in adopting targeted measures to reach the most marginalized; in developing research facilities for an efficient use of water in urban conglomerates and in agriculture; in controlling the use of chemical fertilizers for their impact on rivers and underground water bearing strata and the consequent dangers on health; in highlighting the cost efficient ways that the management and provision of water resources, water services and sanitation contribute in addressing the Millennium Development Goals.

Thank you, Mr. President.

martedì 15 giugno 2010

99th Session of the International Labour Conference

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 99th Session of the International Labour Conference
Geneva, 10 June 2010

Mr. President,

1. The effects of the financial and economic crisis have globally damaged the welfare of families and individuals. Timid, uneven and uncertain signs of recovery notwithstanding, the impact of this recession has stifled progress in poverty reduction, increased unemployment in developed countries and every household has suffered set-backs in low-income countries. In 2015, 20 million more people in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 53 million more people globally, will find themselves in extreme poverty . While there is general agreement on the need for structural reforms, vested interests must not lay most of the burden on wage-earners, rural people, and already marginalized groups in society. Economic mechanisms without ethical criteria will not lead to constructive solutions.

2. The crisis can open a new perspective on the role of markets and on the role of the State. The food crisis of 2008 has shown that countries lacking basic food supplies could not simply rely on the forces of the market to ensure food for their people. Several export countries responded with protectionism and speculation resulting from the perception of shortage. Countries heavily dependent on food import witnessed serious protests. Thus a certain degree of self-sufficiency and a better regulation of the commodities markets became a logical conclusion.

The 2009 financial crisis has shown that financial markets are not self-regulating. Greed prevented the interruption of a process whose systemic risks had been foreseen by many. Financial measures and the assurance provided by States and Central Banks saved the banking system and avoided financial meltdown but were not capable of preventing the subsequent serious economic crisis that has resulted in a significant increase of unemployment and precariousness and has affected the most vulnerable persons and countries. Another result has been the enormous amount of public debt generated, especially by major advanced economies. In industrialised countries, in coming years, gross public debt will exceed 100 percent of GDP thus raising sustainability issues. Governments, weakened by the level of their debt, feel obliged by the financial markets to reduce it. Public budgets and growth will be affected: taxes will increase, buying power will decrease, and unemployment will grow. The weak economic recovery runs the risk of being jeopardised.

This is a delicate condition for major advanced economies, since the process of fiscal consolidation will constrain economic growth. Recent experience shows that the adjustment coefficient is the level of employment, the buying power of people and their ability to feed, educate, and care for themselves. Justice demands that the suffering of people should not be the coefficient of adjustment of the economic system. While the merits of open markets in the creation of wealth should be acknowledged, some additional and internationally coordinated action, as well as the development of some means of common governance, appear necessary. We need to keep in mind that work is more than wages; it is the means to self-fulfilment and the way to achieve one’s life project.

3. The Delegation of the Holy See fully supports the aim of the ILO to give priority to persons and their work in the search for innovative and dynamic policies aimed at removing structural impediments to the recovery of the economy. The attention to domestic workers and the positive vote taken on a new binding instrument for their protection express preference for the most vulnerable members of society. Domestic workers are doubly at risk. First, they come from the most disadvantaged segments of society with very limited resources for protection. Extreme necessity pushes them to take up any job available, even though, in more than a few cases, conditions at work are very hard. Second, the ambiance of their employment is open to exploitation. Women and girls constitute the majority within this category of workers. Often they lack juridical and social protection, fair remuneration, limits on the amount of hours they are expected to work, a guarantee for a weekly period of rest, safeguards during times of illness or for maternity. When abuses occur, there is no appeal and the only option is to escape and thus to lose salary due as well as employment. On many occasions, within the privacy of the domestic walls, the dignity of domestic workers is violated. Physical and sexual harassment are not uncommon. Racial and religious identities expose these workers, especially women, to heavy discrimination.

If the domestic worker is an immigrant, especially if without proper documentation and/a labour contract, his/her vulnerability is much greater. But we should consider that this is one of the few sectors of the economy where immigrant workers are complementing and not substituting indigenous workers, since typically they accept jobs that the latter are unwilling to assume. In many poor countries, young girls are engaged in domestic work and their own families see their service as a normal contribution to family survival. On the other hand, domestic workers assume a critical role, especially in Western societies, where life-style and demographic changes demand their presence. They become an important presence in the family since they manage the household, care for the elderly and for the children and thus allow mothers and daughters to pursue careers and active roles in society. Another important contribution offered by domestic workers is found in the remittances that they send home and that benefit families and local development. The opportunity and necessity of a new binding norm, an International Convention on Domestic Workers, appears undeniable: it will promote opportune national legislation for their protection, support their rights of association, of collective negotiation, and of union representation. An education campaign already should initiate to make domestic workers, as well as employers, aware of reciprocal duties and rights. This widening horizon on the world of work offers both a challenge and new possibilities, as the social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI , Caritas in veritate, states:
“…labour unions — which have always been encouraged and supported by the Church —… Looking to wider concerns than the specific category of labour for which they were formed, union organizations are called to address some of the new questions arising in our society…The global context in which work takes place also demands that national labour unions, which tend to limit themselves to defending the interests of their registered members, should turn their attention to those outside their membership, and in particular to workers in developing countries where social rights are often violated. The protection of these workers, …will enable trade unions to demonstrate the authentic ethical and cultural motivations that made it possible for them, in a different social and labour context, to play a decisive role in development.”

4. As part of this widening of horizons in the struggle for a global implementation of decent work, attention should focus on other categories of workers in need of protection: the masses of still unorganized workers, rural workers, and unemployed youth. The rights of unorganized workers are too often ignored, and, as a result, their security in the work place, their protection from unjust firing, and their entitlement to at least a minimum salary are not respected. Rural workers, in particular, are left out of the range of attention. Not always ready to confront market forces because of lack of training or lack of information, due to the current crisis, they risk being deprived of public support for technical capacity-building or for trade. These are badly needed measures responding to readjustment policies that proved to be counter-productive. Thus some of these policies should be revised, and an allowance made for an incremental opening of borders for homogeneous groups of countries, for as long as they can improve their productivity and their capacity to profit from the market. In 92 countries, agriculture represents more than 75% of the GDP; between 2 and 2.5 billion persons derive their income from agriculture. This sector of the economy is a source of work, of food, of social networks, of emancipation of women, and of protection (or degradation) of the environment. By creatively supporting work in this sector, malnutrition and poverty can be reduced and eventually eliminated, and such workers integrated in the global economy.

Finally, child labour and youth unemployment call for a concerted response. More than 215 million children are constrained to work, many in dangerous conditions. The number of unemployed youth has increased by 8.5 million between 2008 and 2009, the largest year-on-year increase in the last 10 years, and by more than 10 million since 2007. Wasted capacities and frustration can have disastrous social consequences for the future.

Mr. President,

5. The economic crisis can become an opportunity. The complexity of the situation makes it difficult to make appropriate choices. If, however, the recovery is comprehensive in its embrace of all workers, renews the tripartite dialogue that is at the core of the ILO mission, and gives priority to people and their talents, then a step forward will be taken in the pursuit of justice by the international community. In this approach, A Global Jobs Pact indeed will reduce the time lag between economic recovery and a recovery with decent work opportunities. If a reduction in military expenses is added to these efforts, rather than the 6 percent increase in such expenses that occurred in 2009, more resources can be channelled toward the recovery of truly decent jobs. Men and women, workers, employers and entrepreneurs, constitute the best resources available; their intelligence, creativity and energy can develop new jobs and sustain innovation if their freedom is not detached from the responsibility to prevent the emergence of financial speculation at the expense of the real economy and of greed destructive of jobs and savings.

In conclusion, good decisions are necessary in order to move toward a post-crisis phase of the globalization of the economy and of work. But only a corresponding “ethical interaction of consciences and minds” will give rise to integral development where the human person is at the centre of labour relations, confident to journey toward a better future.

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 Maternal Mortality Panel of the 14th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 14 June 2010

Mr. President,

Based on the significant commitment and experience of the Catholic Church in assisting mothers and newborn babies, since the earliest of times, especially through its hospitals and maternity and pediatric clinics, my delegation wishes to express its urgent concerns about the shocking number of maternal deaths that continue to occur – estimated by reliable indicators at 350,000 a year – most especially among the poorest and most marginalized and disenfranchised populations.
The Holy See's approach to Maternal Mortality is holistic, since it gives priority to the rights of mothers and child, both those already born and those awaiting birth in the womb of the mother. Not surprisingly, a strong correlation is revealed between statistics related to Maternal Mortality and those related to Neonatal Death, indicating that many measures aimed at combating maternal mortality, in fact, also contribute to a further reduction of child mortality. Moreover, we should not forget that 3 million babies die annually during their first week of life, another 3 million are stillborn, 2.3 million children die each year during their first year of life.
Mr. President,
Improvements to reduce Maternal Mortality have been made possible due to higher per capita income, higher education rates for women and increasing availability of basic medical care, including "skilled birth attendants". A recent study on Maternal Mortality has suggested that maternal mortality in Africa could be significantly reduced if HIV-positive mothers were given access to antiretroviral medications. The availability of emergency obstetric care, including the provision of universal pre and post-natal care, and adequate transport to medical facilities (when necessary), skilled birth attendants, a clean blood supply and a clean water supply, appropriate antibiotics, and the introduction of a minimum age of 18 years for marriage, are all measures that could benefit both mothers and their children. Most importantly, if the international community wishes to effectively reduce the tragic rates of maternal mortality, respect for and promotion of the right to health and of access to medications must not only be spoken about, but also be put into action, by States as well as by non-governmental organizations and by civil society.
Mr. President,
Policies aimed at combating Maternal Mortality and Child Mortality need to strike a delicate balance between the rights of mother and those of the child, both of whom are rights bearers, the first of which is the right to life. The maternity clinics and hospitals promoted by the Catholic Church do exactly that: they save the lives both of mothers and of child, born and yet-to-be-born.
Thank you Mr. President.

mercoledì 9 giugno 2010

H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi: 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 . 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.” 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. .
The Committee on Economic and Cultural Rights, in its General Comment No. 14 , 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 ; more than 100 million people fall into poverty annually because they have to pay for health care ; in developing countries, patients themselves pay for 50 to 90 per cent of essential medicines ; nearly 2 billion people lack access to essential medicines .

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 , only 38% were received life-saving anti-retroviral medications at the end of 2008 . 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. ”

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 …”

H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi: (WTO)-Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) 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 World Trade Organization (WTO)-Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Council

Geneva, 8 June 2010

Mr. President,
I join previous speakers and congratulate you on your election.

1. On the issue of article 27.3(b), Patentable subject matter, the delegation of the Holy See wishes to provide some comments and raise some additional concerns.
2. Article 27.3(b) allows Members to exclude from patentability plants and animals, but not micro-organisms, and allows Members to exclude from patentability biological processes which are essential for the production of plants and animals, but not non-biological or microbiological ones. The rationale behind this provision is to reinforce the international protection of patents and other Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) on non-biological and microbiological life developments by linking such protection to the general legal framework on trade of other goods and services. Such protection, however, should be promoted fairly and in full accord with the development objectives established by article 7 of TRIPS, with the provisions of article 8 related to the political freedom of States to protect public health and nutrition, and to promote the public interest in sectors of vital importance to their socio-economic and technological development, and with provisions of article 27.2, which allows members to “exclude from patentability inventions, the prevention within their territory of the commercial exploitation of which is necessary to protect ordre public or morality, including to protect human, animal or plant life or health or to avoid serious prejudice to the environment”.
3. The patenting of life forms could sometimes serve as a tool to support biotechnologies that are problematic both from an ethical point of view and from the point of view of a “development-friendly” intellectual property system.
4. In relation to human life, article 4 of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights states that "The human genome in its natural state shall not give rise to financial gains"[1] while article 21 of the Council of Europe Convention for the protection of human rights and dignity of the human being with regard to the application of biology and medicine, that: "The human body and its parts shall not, as such, give rise to financial gains”[2]. In the same regard, the United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning[3] acknowledges the ethical concerns that certain applications of rapidly developing life sciences may raise with regard to human dignity, human rights and the fundamental freedoms of individuals, and calls States to adopt all measures necessary to protect adequately human life in the application of life sciences. Thus, the TRIPS agreement, other WTO rules, and all other international, regional and bilateral trade and IPR agreements should not reduce ability of States to govern the aspects of IPR related to human life and dignity.

5. Mere commercial control of production and distribution of new life forms could affect both food security and development prospects of poor countries. Private monopolistic rights should not be imposed over those biological resources, from which the basic food and medicine requirements of human life are derived. An inclusive approach to IPR should not ignore the major economic, environmental, and ethical concerns about the patenting of life, since such action would exert a negative impact on consumer rights, biodiversity conservation, environmental protection, indigenous rights, scientific and academic freedom, and, ultimately, the economic development of many developing countries insofar as it depends on new technologies.

6. In 2007, the United Nations adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which recognizes, in Article 31, that "indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts" and the "right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property aver such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions". When opportune and feasible, the WIPO/GRTKF developments and conclusions should be acknowledged within the context of the TRIPS rules.

7. Among agents of development, there is a significant concern about patenting of varieties of seeds that are genetically engineered. An unlimited application of Patent procedures to biological, scientific, and technical developments could be harmful to both traditional and modern methods of research and production, especially with regard to new varieties that are beneficial in the developing world. Concentration of seed ownership could threaten the autonomy of local farmers, who are forced to buy seeds every season from a handful of companies with whom they have little power to negotiate competitive prices. Ownership of Intellectual Property Rights to seeds could seriously jeopardize the practice of saving seeds in order to trade or replant them during the next season. most small and medium-scale farmers routinely save seeds, and an important portion of world population depends on the continued financial stability of farmers who do so. The International Community should render due attention to concerns about the concentration of technology and resources in food production by a small group of entities and companies that are driven by purely commercial goals. Special attention also should be given to intellectual property protection of seeds discovered by individual farmers – both from developed or developing countries – and to the rights of indigenous people to the traditional use and ownership of those plants that are essential to their livelihoods and cultures.

8. The main goal of the international community should be to promote the common good. Moreover, international trade rules and negotiations should aim toward the good of all, especially of those people who are poor and vulnerable, should ensure both the means for human sustenance, such as food, water, medicines, health environment, etc., and the means for the cultural, social and spiritual development of people.

Discussions about the international protection of intellectual property rights and about the scope and consequences of article 27, 3.b, also should be guided, in all sincerity, by the promotion of the common good and of human dignity, as it is rightly stated in the Declaration, the Final Act, the Preamble and the Annex 1C of the Agreement of Marrakech.

mercoledì 2 giugno 2010

H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva

Intervention by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the
Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva
Urgent Debate on the Israeli raid on the flotilla sailing to Gaza
14th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 1 June 2010

Mr. President,
With profound sadness the Holy See delegation notes that the unsettled situation in the Middle East remains a source of tragic events. The latest loss of life caused by the use of force in the Israeli attack in international waters against the humanitarian flotilla of ships sailing to the Gaza Strip unfortunately adds another link in the long chain of conflicts and confrontations that produce suffering and tensions for the Palestinian population and the population of Israel.
To the families of the new victims goes our solidarity and condolences. It is hoped that recent and past victims may encourage a wide understanding that violence does not lead to enduring peace, but that dialogue, respect of rights and mutual acceptance do.
To make an effective dialogue possible, a full, impartial and transparent investigation into the latest incident, based upon international law and international humanitarian law, is necessary.
While all the facts are ascertained, it is clear that the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza are not met and all parties involved and the international community have a responsibility to cooperate so that the fundamental human rights of those persons are implemented.
As the Holy See has previously stated, it is always opposed to the use of violence from whatever side it may come. Violence makes even more difficult the search for peaceful solutions, the only ones that can build a future of constructive coexistence.
My delegation calls once again upon all parties involved to come to a durable solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiation, leading to a two-State solution, with Israel and an independent Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security.
Thank you Mr. President.

.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi,

Intervention 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 Interactive Dialogue on Human Rights and Foreign Debt, Item 3
14th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 2 June 2010

Mr. President,
Let me start by thanking the independent expert for his report presented to the Council. The reports draws attention to the negative impacts of “vulture fund” activities on international debt relief efforts and on the capacity of indebted poor countries that have benefitted from debt relief to create the necessary conditions for the realization of human rights. It also examines the measures and proposals designed to combat these speculative investors.

The sharp contraction of the global economy that began in the second half of 2008 and accelerated into the first quarter of 2009 doesn’t appear to be slowing down. The economic situation is still fragile and prospects are still uncertain in all regions of the world. The financial crisis was harsher in the developed countries and consequently its effects have been felt most severely there, but the subsequent collapse of aggregate demand in those countries is still working its way through the global economy and in particular on the Least Developed Countries. The international community cannot ignore this fact; while reaffirming the principle that debts must be repaid, ways must be found that do not compromise the “fundamental right of peoples to subsistence and progress” .The economy is not above the priority of human rights since it is at the service of the human person and the common good.

The voluntary nature of international debt relief schemes has created opportunities for vulture funds to acquire defaulted sovereign debt at vastly reduced prices and then seek repayment of the full-face value of the debt through litigation, seizure of assets or political pressure. The goal of such activities is to obtain high returns at bargain prices regardless of the ethical consequences of such actions. The so-called vulture fund activities complicate sovereign debt restructuring by causing inequitable burden sharing among creditors, and undermine trade and investment relations of the countries that they target.

The debt of the developing countries must be placed in a broader context of economic, political, human rights and technological relations concerns as well as of international collaboration in pursuing the objectives of the common good. This interdependence calls for a new and more comprehensive concept of solidarity which respect the equal dignity of all peoples. Solidarity implies an awareness and acceptance of co-responsibility for the causes and the solutions relative to international debt. Co-responsibility will help to create or restore relations based on trust between nations (creditors and debtors) and between the various actors (political authorities, commercial banks, international organizations) for cooperation in the search of solutions. Thus mutual trust is an indispensable value which must be constantly renewed.

While we support the solution proposed in the report, our delegation would like to ask the independent expert what form of State control and preventive measures in the financial market could impede the emergence of manipulative strategies that damage the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries(HIPCs).

lunedì 19 aprile 2010

General Debate Item 3 of the 13th Session of the Human Rights Council Geneva, 12th March 2010

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.

giovedì 11 marzo 2010

Permanent Mission of the Holy See

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 Annual full-day meeting on the Rights of the Child of the
13th Session of the Human Rights Council:

The fight against sexual violence against children
Geneva, 10th March 2010

Mr. President,

“Sexual abuse of minors is always a heinous crime”. To this unambiguous condemnation of sexual violence against children and young people, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has added the religious dimension, pointing out that it is also a "grave sin" that offends God and human dignity. The child's physical and psychological integrity is violated with destructive consequences. Studies have shown that abused children react in different ways to sexual violence and have a higher likelihood of teen pregnancy, homelessness, risk of drug and alcohol dependence. In a word, the evil committed against these little ones often stigmatizes them for their entire life.

As you are aware, in the last years, Catholic clergy, religious and lay workers in a number of countries have been accused , and several have been convicted, of child abuse. There is no excuse for this behavior, which is a grave betrayal of trust. In some cases heavy fines had to be paid while in other cases the culprits were given custodial sentences. Protection from sexual aggression remains high on the agenda of all church institutions as they struggle to come to terms with this serious problem. Likewise, concrete measures to ensure transparency and assistance to the victims and their families are the way to alleviate the pain, grief, and bewilderment caused by the abuse that has occurred.

The Catholic community continues its efforts to deal decisively with this problem. Thus, those who are found guilty of these crimes are immediately suspended from exercising their office and are dealt with according to the norms of civil and canon laws. Other legal measures have been taken in order to ensure that children and young people cared for in schools and institutions are safe. Many of the measures taken, legal or administrative, deal with recognition and punishment of abuse. Prevention is the best medicine, and this begins with education and promoting a culture of respect of the human rights and human dignity of every child, and especially through the implementation of efficient methods for the recruitment of school personnel.

Could the panel share some best practices that can help children to recognize and report the improper behavior of educators and caregivers?

giovedì 28 gennaio 2010

The Support of the Human Rights Council to the Recovery Process in Haiti after the Earthquake of January 12, 2010: a Human Rights Approach

Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See
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 13th Special Session of the Human Rights Council
The Support of the Human Rights Council to the Recovery Process in Haiti after the Earthquake of January 12, 2010: a Human Rights Approach
28 January 2010

Mr. President,
The world has been shaken by the tens of thousands of deaths, the millions that are left homeless, and by the destruction of Port-au-Prince and other villages on the island of Haiti, caused by the terrible earthquake of January 12th. The Delegation of the Holy See expresses its condolences for all the victims of the recent earthquake to the Government and people of Haiti through their representatives present with us today. We welcome the initiative taken by Brazil for this Special Session.
The images of the collapsed cathedral in the capital, which have gone around the world, symbolize the situation of the Church in this majority Catholic country. The Church also has been hard and painfully hit by the death of many of its members, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince and many religious, priests and seminarians. Schools, hospitals and clinics run by the Church have been destroyed. A great number of social and pastoral workers, several of them foreigners, have died under the rubble of a collapsed city while serving together the Haitian people.
Such emergency shows more clearly the need and value of respecting human rights. In the case of Haiti, the right to life, to food, water, health, development, an adequate life expectancy, the right to decent work, among others, were already largely absent. The recent tragedy is a call to the solidarity of the international community to respond immediately to these requirements of the Haitian people and to place these human rights at the base of a healthy plan of reconstruction.
A few hours after the earthquake struck, the Holy Father Benedict XVI called for concrete action: "I appeal to everyone's generosity not to let these brothers and sisters who are experiencing a time of need and sorrow go without our practical solidarity and the effective support of the International Community. The Catholic Church will not fail to take immediate action through her charitable institutions in order to meet the people's most urgent needs." Countries from all over the world are rushing to aid the quake victims. Many Catholic NGO's have launched rebuilding programs. For example, Caritas Internationalis has received 33 million dollars so far for this purpose and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has already delivered 25 million dollars of aid to Haiti. However, the well-meaning and generous international assistance provided to Haiti, in a practical application of the principle of subsidiarity, first of all should offer the Haitian people the capacity to rebuild their needed infrastructures and to assume their political and social responsibility.
Mr. President, the Church, as an integral part of Haitian society, will continue to actively collaborate in rebuilding the country, by promoting the most basic human rights and by contributing to the health and educational advancement of the Haitian people in their just aspiration to a life of freedom and dignity.
Thank you Mr. President.