(Source: CD/Vatican News)

The Holy See, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič said on Wednesday, recognises the profound impact that the coronavirus crisis has had on society and on world economies.

The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva urged UN member States to “leave no one behind” in their responses to the current emergency.

Concern over COVID privatisations

Archbishop Jurkovič was addressing the 45th session of the Human Rights Council, focused on the right to development.

Referring to the concern expressed by UN Special Rapporteur on the right to development Saad Alfarargi over “declining levels of assistance,” as well as his worry over “the trend of privatisation that in the context of public-private partnerships [that] could turn social services into profit-generating opportunities,” Archbishop Jurkovič highlighted the importance of surveillance measures to prevent and address possible abuses in this area.

Tax policies “a powerful means for a just distribution of wealth”

“The Holy See welcomes the acknowledgement of the role played by tax policies in the context of financing for development and the opportunities presented for the integration of the right to development and achievement of equality,” said Archbishop Jurkovič, recalling how tax law and monetary policies represent “a powerful means for a just distribution of wealth and [the] funding of development.”

The UN Rapporteur, Jurkovič continued, also pointed out that States have the primary responsibility for the creation of national and international conditions that favour the right to development.

“A global approach is fundamental,” Jurkovič explained, as is the involvement of the most vulnerable populations “both at… policy and project levels in formulating decisions on whether and how to finance development.”

“This must be at the core of the integral human development in order to promote the full exercise of human dignity,” he said.

One human family

Archbishop Jurkovič concluded noting that “this is the time to bring together the entire human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development as the only alternative to the selfishness of particular interests and the temptation to return to the past, at the risk of severely damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations.”

“Water is the most essential element for life; the future of humanity depends on our capacity to guard it and share it”

Also on Wednesday, Archbishop Jurkovič spoke to the UN on behalf of the Holy See regarding the “right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation.”

Citing Pope Francis, the archbishop reminded those present at the 45th session of the Human Rights Council that “water is the most essential element for life, and the future of humanity depends on our capacity to guard it and share it.”

He also stated the Holy See’s position that “access to water and sanitation is not just a basic human need, but also a crucial element for the health of the Earth and of those who live [on] it.”

Archbishop Jurkovič acknowledged that the United Nations General Assembly of 17 December 2015 expressed a similar vision to that of the Holy See’s.

However, he added that “the Holy See has continually emphasised that more still needs to be done to foster the universal affirmation of this fundamental right.”

He therefore drew attention to no. 75 of the Report of the Special Rapporteur written for the occasion that states that “the full realisation of the human right to water and sanitation cannot be left to States alone.”

Commenting on this statement, Archbishop Jurkovič said that everyone has the responsibility to contribute to the development of a “more integral and sustainable society.”

Right to water rooted in human dignity

The archbishop affirmed the Special Rapporteur’s mention of the many “types of resources that contribute to achieving the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.”

But, he added that all human rights, including the right to water, are founded on the dignity of the human person, and “not in any kind of merely quantitative assessment that considers water as a merely economic good.”

Archbishop Jurkovič then noted that the international community needs “to face the urgent moral need for [a] new solidarity concerning natural resources.”

Managing water sources is connected with “social responsibility, a mentality of ecological behavior” and global “solidarity among countries.” This, he said, is the only possible way “to strengthen the common good and preserve it for the future.”

The Holy See’s representative then concluded with a citation from Pope Francis taken from his special Urbi et orbi address of March 27 earlier this year.

“This is not a time for self-centeredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons. […] Let us not lose the opportunity to give further proof of solidarity, also by turning to innovative solutions.”

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.