US: Pope calls for global unity to deal with crises

New York, 18 April (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI has called on countries around the world to unite as they deal with international crises while also stressing the universal foundation of human rights.

In a speech to the United Nations in New York on Friday, the 81-year-old pontiff said that the world was still subject to "the decisions of a few", without naming countries.

He called on nations to protect their people from "grave and sustained" human rights abuses or face intervention from the international community.

"Every state has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights," Benedict said.

"If states are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments."

According to the pope, the real harm came from indifference.

He argued that global rules and structures did not limit freedom but promoted it.

"In the context of international relations, we must recognise the higher role played by rules and structures that are intrinsically ordered to promote the common good, and therefore to safeguard human freedom.

"These regulations do not limit freedom. On the contrary, they promote it when they prohibit behaviour and actions which work against the common good, curb its effective exercise and hence compromise the dignity of every human being," he said.

Noting that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the pope said promoting human rights was "the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups and for increasing security."

Benedict XVI is the third pope to address the UN after Paul VI in 1965 and John Paul II in 1979 and 1995.


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