Fr. Foley – Refections on the UN General Assembly

by | Oct 11, 2014 | Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity, Justice and Peace, Vincentian Family at the U.N.

UN flagFather Joe Foley, CM NGO representative at the UN offer his summary and reflections of the The United Nations General Assembly – Session 69

I would like to share with you a brief reflection on the opening of this year’s UN General Assembly.

By almost any measure the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly will be a momentous one. The issues before the Assembly will guarantee this: critical actions necessary to advance the global common good, improving the well-being of men, women and children living in poverty, addressing climate change. The consequences, over time, of a failure to effectively meet these urgent challenges is almost unthinkable.

In his opening remarks to the General Assembly, the President provided an overview of his agenda. He noted that this year marks the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations and the 20th Anniversary of the ground-breaking Beijing Conference on Women. This will also be the year in which the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals will be formulated and adopted. At 70, the United Nations will try to renew and strengthen its faith in the dignity and worth of the person, its commitment to equal rights for women and men and nations large and small, and it will try anew to develop that kind of effective cooperation without which meeting this agenda will be impossible.

Speaking for the Holy See, in continuity with its predecessors, Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, proclaimed esteem and appreciation for the United Nations as an indispensable means of building an authentic human family. “The Holy See, he said, continues to value the efforts of this distinguished institution to ensure world peace and respect for human dignity; to advance the well-being of persons, especially the poorest and most vulnerable; and he drew attention to the organization’s efforts to promote harmonious economic and social development.” Cardinal Parolin, spoke of the reform the UN would have to undergo to make it an effective instrument to counter the new forms of terrorism at work in such places as northern Iraq and parts of Syria. He spoke about the international community’s “the responsibility to protect,” broadening the concept to include the protection of people against the aggression of such entities as financial systems “governed only speculation and the maximization of profits.” In the context of the proposed sustainability goals, the Cardinal reaffirmed that social and economic justice are a condition for lasting peace.

A final note on the intervention of the Vatican Secretary of State: quoting an often repeated warning of Pope Francis, he flagged the danger today of widespread indifference, saying that such apathy can amount to irresponsibility.

In the United Nations, an inter-governmental organization, one sometimes sees representatives of governments acting – not in their capacity as decision makers – but as if they were spectators at a drama, mere observers. This same indifference is also prevalent in many sectors of our societies, our churches and in our institutes, with the result that the condition of the poor remains unchanged. In these years, when the stakes are very high, it is useful to reflect that powerful, well-resourced forces are at work making sure that there will be no change. So, the marginalized, those whom “development” never manages to reach will continue to remain beyond the reach of development. As Vincentians, these people are our portion and our lot. Their condition can never be acceptable to us.

The 70th anniversary of the United Nations, the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Conference, the formulation and adoption of the post 2015 Sustainability Goals or the magnitude of the climate crisis can represent for us a call to action anew. In the weeks and months that follow, this page will take note of progress in these areas and offer resources and opportunities for personal involvement. We will also give priority to sharing what you are doing on behalf of people living in situations of distress or what you are doing to address climate justice.

I invite you to follow the link and read both statements.