Holy See Says Economic Crisis Will Compromise Human Rights

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer 

The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations is warning about the dramatic social consequences of the global recession which could cause a rise in power of governments with a “dubious commitment to democracy” and push an additional 53 million people below the threshold of living on less than $2 a day.

On Feb. 20, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., speaking at the tenth special session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, said the current global economic crisis is compromising the human rights of countless persons, including their right to food, water, health and decent work.”

“In a recent document, the World Bank estimates that, in 2009, the current global economic crisis could push an additional 53 million people below the threshold of two dollars a day,” he said. “This figure is in addition to the 130 million people pushed into poverty in 2008 by the increase in food and energy prices.”

Archbishop Tomasi said the Holy See’s delegation is specifically focusing on the impact of this crisis on the human rights of children.

“At present some important rights of poor people are heavily dependent on official aid flows and on workers’ remittances. These include the right to health, education, and food. In several poor countries, in fact, educational, health and nutritional programmes are implemented with the help of aid flows from official donors. Should the economic crisis reduce this assistance, the successful completion of these programs could be threatened.”

These negative economic consequences go beyond the personal dimension and affect entire societies, he said.

“If the reduction of both aid and remittances continue, it will deprive children of the right to be educated creating a double negative consequence. Lower educational investment today, in fact, will be translated into lower future growth.
At  the same time, poor nutrition among children significantly worsens life expectancy by increasing both child and adult mortality rates.”

He also warned that “periods of severe economic hardship have been characterised by the rise in power of governments with dubious commitments to democracy.

“The Holy See prays that such consequences will be avoided in the present crisis, since they would result in a serious threat for the diffusion of basic human rights for which this institution has so tenaciously struggled.”


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