Pope calls world leaders to abandon nuclear weapons, end wars

This is the fifth time that the Pope of the Catholic Church is visiting the U.S., which earlier visits in 1965, 1975, 1995 and 2008.

Updated - November 17, 2021 01:05 am IST

Published - September 25, 2015 10:17 pm IST - NEW YORK

In his inaugural address at the UN General Assembly session to adopt the 2030 global development agenda here, Pope Francis urged world leaders to abandon nuclear weapons and end wars. “War is the negation of all rights,” he said and called for putting an end to the denial of basic human rights to innumerable people the world over due to wars between nations and people. On Friday, 193 member countries of the UNGA assembled to adopt the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Given the completion of 70 years of the United Nations in the current session and 15 years of implementing the Millennium Development Goals, the juridical framework for peace and development was already in place, which had to be now implemented, he said. However, the ineffectiveness of the chart of enforcement was evident with ulterior motives serving as a reference point to justice, with law being used when favourable, he pointed out. Setting global frameworks for justice but denying them in practice should not be the case, he said, and emphasised that the continuation of the use of weapons of mass destructions, such as nuclear weapons, was an affront to the framework of the United Nations.

This is the fifth time that the Pope of the Catholic Church is visiting the U.S., which earlier visits in 1965, 1975, 1995 and 2008, with Pope Benedict XVI visiting last. Pope Francis said that he was keen to continue the tradition of the Catholic Church of advocating governments to uphold the greater common good.

Technological capabilities and ideas of assimilation had resulted in the current world situation where mankind is not able to survive the unchecked use of earth’s resources. Deriving from its 70 years of experience in global reform, the UN must address the need for greater equity within with executive capabilities of the Security Council being employed to check financial agencies created to deal with the economic crisis, he said. Warning international financial agencies from indulging in oppressive lending systems, he said such exploitative practices far from promoting growth only subject people to greater poverty, exploitation and debt dependence.

Urging world leaders to embrace the idea of universal fraternity, he said that the limitation of power was implicit in the law and that the classic definition of justice ensured that no human considered themselves absolute. “The effective distribution of power among plurality of subjects is written into law yet today’s world produces faults where vulnerable victims of power badly exercised exist,” he noted.

Pope Francis emphasised the values embedded in the new 2030 development agenda of protecting the environment and ending exclusion. He referred to the intrinsic value of every creature and emphasised the interdependence of each creature with others, cautioning them that no one was authorised to destroy or consume more than what is necessary. “The environment is a fundamental good,” he stressed.

The Pope also emphasised the right to education for girls, and the right to lodging, labour and land, which form the basis for implementing the 2030 agenda. He also called for upholding the religious freedom and all other civil rights of people.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai also addressed the UNGA and expressed concern at the continuing outbreak of violence across the world, such as that witnessed in Nigeria where the Boko Haram kidnapped young girls, and urged world leaders to help put an end to such incidents that deprived young girls of an education. “Education is hope and education is peace,” she asserted to a rousing applause from the Assembly.

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