unctad.org | UNCTAD welcomes Vatican call for people to be at the heart of economic life
UNCTAD welcomes Vatican call for people to be at the heart of economic life
22 July 2014

​Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi attends high-level Vatican seminar and endorses wide-ranging proposals for economic and financial reform.



UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi was among signatories to a statement released by the Vatican on 21 July calling for reforms of the international economic and financial system to "put people and their wellbeing at the centre of economic and political life".

The result of a two-day seminar on "The Global Common Good: Towards a More Inclusive Economy" held in the Vatican on 11-12 July, the statement was undersigned by Dr. Kituyi and more than sixty high-level participants of the event, which was convened by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the request of His Holiness Pope Francis.

As a result of globalization, the statement reads, "many people experience a severe loss of value and morals in political and economic life, and furthermore, the means and instruments of our economy, such as money, are accorded more importance than the proper end or goal of that same economy, that is, sustaining a good life for the human community. Similarly, human beings are frequently treated as means to an economic end, and not as the reason why economic activity take place at all."

To combat this, the statement endorsed a number of actions aimed at achieving a more inclusive economy including the adoption of ambitious Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, confronting the "too-big-to-fail" problem in the international banking system, the creation of banks for the poor, the fight against structural unemployment, and supporting UN and civil society initiatives to combat corruption, among other scourges.

Co-signatories included Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) José Ángel Gurría, former Director-General of World Trade Organization (WTO) Pascal Lamy, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning Amina Mohammed, economist Jeffrey Sachs, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus.

In addressing the by-invitation-only seminar, Pope Francis said that economic and social systems that lose sight of the wellbeing of the people they ostensibly serve needed reform and he warned against the tendency of humankind "becoming an instrument of the system, the social system, economic system, a system where imbalance reigns".

Dr. Kituyi's invitation to the seminar followed an audience with Pope Francis in May, after which Archishop Mario Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, paid tribute to the work of UNCTAD during its fiftieth anniversary celebrations in Geneva in June, calling its work an "inspiration" for the Catholic Church.

"The Holy See strongly supported the original inspiration of UNCTAD that created a global trading system friendly to the development of poor countries," said Archbishop Toso. "At the same time, it should be said that the critical evaluation of the evolution of the Global Economy conducted by UNCTAD and many of its insights relating to trade and development were quite helpful in the development of the social doctrine of the Church concerning relations with countries."

"Notwithstanding the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of international trade negotiations in 1994, which moved most of the international trade discussion and agreement to the WTO, UNCTAD has remained the most important think-tank and political advocate of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and other countries with particular needs, and as such it continues to enjoy the deep esteem of the Holy See and continues to be an inspiration for its international positions," he added.

SG with Pope Francis
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi meeting His Holiness Pope Francis, May 2014

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