Palais des Nations, Geneva
Franciscans International and Dominicans for Justice and Peace expressed their ongoing concern about the inequality of opportunities available to people of different cultures for their development and the realization of their full dignity as human beings. The advantages or disadvantages of color, gender and country exert a tremendous determining force on an individual's possibilities for personal development. Racial and gender prejudices are some of the greatest obstacles to equal opportunity for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.
In 1999 and again this year at the UN Commission and Sub-Commission, we expressed our concern over governments that often ignore the elimination of girl children on the basis of their gender, by various means such as abortion and abandonment. The discrepancy in opportunity for girl children in terms of education is a serious concern, especially when religious and cultural reasons attempt to justify this inequality. When one half of the world's population is systematically neglected and denied equal opportunity for personal growth the loss to humanity is immeasurable.
We also expressed our concern about the unsustainable burden of foreign debt payments on poor nation. Efforts to repay debts and the associated accumulated interest generally force poor countries to reduce their expenditures on health and education programs and to cut employment, thereby weakening national infrastructures. Further, the worsening economy in impoverished nations promotes the flight of capital to wealthier places.
On a more positive and constructive note, in September 1999 Franciscans International, Dominicans for Justice and Peace and the Lutheran World Federation held a seminar in Geneva entitled "Implementation of the Right to Development: Challenges and Opportunities." Its success encouraged us to assume a more ambitious project of hosting a series of informal discussions on the right to development over the next eight months. Hopefully, this dialogue will help to defuse the polarization developed over this topic. We began, in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the series of discussions with another seminar "Right to Development: Challenges and Opportunities II" which was held in Geneva on 31 August and 1 September 2000.
Summary Links Sub-Commission 2000:
Mexico, Pakistan, Iraq, indigenous peoples, economic and social rights