Mr. President,
Thank you for opening this morning’s session with a special tribute to the late Pope John
Paul II. My delegation deeply appreciates your gesture and conveys to you the Holy See’s
acknowledgement and appreciation for the kind expression of your sympathy.
I would also like to express my thanks and appreciation to the Chairs of the regional groups
and to the Permanent Representatives for the statements which cordially echo and skillfully
portray the many feats of a mighty man of peace. At the four points of the compass, he
transmitted fresh courage and hope to those who are oppressed, the poorest and the weakest
throughout the world, with a passion for freedom and solidarity, confronting the drawbacks in
different political, economic and social systems. In this, he was guided by a respect for the
dignity of the human being, made in the image of God. He strongly believed that it is only by
keeping the transcendent in view, that we can remain truly conscious of our place in creation.
During his first visit to UN Headquarters in New York in 1979, John Paul II said that the
Holy See attached not only great importance to its collaboration with the United Nations but that,
after the birth of the Organisation, it had always expressed its esteem and approval for the
historic importance of this “ultimate forum” of international life and contemporary humanity.
In particular, John Paul II said that he hoped that the UN, due to its universal character, would
not cease to be an effective place from where to evaluate, in truth and justice, all the problems
facing humanity. While visiting the UN in 1995, he suggested that the UN could become a kind
of “moral centre where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness
of being, as it were, a 'family of nations.'”
At a time when efforts were made to stand at a certain distance from the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and to set aside some of the contents of this milestone along
humanity’s difficult road, John Paul II, throughout the 26 years of his pontificate, was one of its
most ardent defenders.
As with his predecessors, John Paul II often expressed the hope that the UN and its agencies
might become better adapted to their mission. There are many reforms that he felt would be
desirable so as to make the bodies associated with the UN more efficient, so that they might
serve better the societies, economies and cultures of the world.
He felt that, as globalisation grows, there should be a corresponding growth in sound and
effective international organs capable of guiding the world’s economy for the common good.
While states standing alone are unlikely to achieve such a goal, international organs, backed by
real political will, could effectively cooperate with states to do so.
Furthermore, the pope dearly wished to see the UN develop effective procedures other than
war to resolve international conflicts. With regard to those that have troubled recent history,
John Paul II always advocated the application of international law, placing the rule of law over
the rule of force. If the will to work for the common good in this way truly existed, the weakness
of some international institutions would rapidly be transformed, to the greater peace and security
of all, with the added bonus of great amounts of resources being thus available for development,
the acknowledged adjunct to a wise security policy.
Mr President, let me finish by repeating my gratitude for your kind expressions of
condolence and for those of the distinguished delegations who have been good enough to do
likewise. Thank you.
[00417-02.03] [Original text: English]