Addressing General Assembly, Pope stresses major UN role on raft of issues

Pope Benedict XVI today stressed the United Nations’ major role in seeking a better world as he highlighted, during an address to the General Assembly, the need to protect human rights, ensure development, security and reduce local and global inequalities.

“The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security,” he told the 192-member body in a half-hour speech that was greeted with a standing ovation. “Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peaces,” he added speaking in French and English.

Pope Benedict called the UN the embodiment of aspirations for a “greater degree of international ordering” in response to the needs of the human family.

“This is all the more necessary at a time when we experience the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few, whereas the world’s problems call for interventions in the form of collective action by the international community,” he said.

Introducing the Pope, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said the visit provided “a unique occasion to remind ourselves of our noble mission” to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.

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