The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, urging governments to do more to prevent wars, protect human dignity and work for a nuclear-free world.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher’s speech was delivered on Monday in New York during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, addressing the theme ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life on a Sustainable Planet’.
The Holy See’s foreign minister spoke of the right to life and freedom of religion as the pillars of peace and development, from which all other rights flow. He described the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as two positive signs of hope, but said that nations must do more to implement the legal and political commitments enshrined in those agreements.
Step back from military escalation
Regarding the urgent need to prevent violence and conflict, Archbishop Gallagher said: “All countries should take a decisive and urgent step back from the present escalation of military preparations. The largest countries and those who have a stronger tradition of respecting human rights,” he added, “should be the first to perform generous actions of pacification”.
Protect civilians in conflict
Speaking of the Vatican’s concern for conflicts across Africa and the Middle East, as well as the violence in Venezuela, the foreign minister said civilians must be protected during warfare and the rights of migrants and refugees fleeing conflict must be respected.
Combat human trafficking
Referring to the forthcoming UN Global Compact on migration, Archbishop Gallagher urged nations to work together in opening “safe, orderly and regular pathways” for migrants, while combatting the great evils of people trafficking and the trade in human organs.
Abolish nuclear weapons
Finally Archbishop Gallagher condemned the proliferation of weapons, calling for much stricter arms control and reiterating in particular Pope Francis’ urgent appeal for “the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons”.