By Joachim Teigen
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Holy See Secretary for Relations with States, delivered his statement to the High-Level Segment of the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council on Monday 25 February in Geneva.
He remarked how fitting it was that Geneva, with its numerous organisations of multilateral diplomacy, should also be the city to host the UN’s efforts for the protection and promotion of human rights. This, he noted, demonstrates the essential place of human rights in international relations.
The issue of “new rights”
The recognition of the equal dignity of humans implies a reference to that which all humans have in common, Abp. Gallagher said. He therefore highlighted the issue of so-called “new rights” fragmenting the nature of the human person, and leading to the conflict of different rights and “new forms of ideological colonization”.
Restriction of religious freedom
Another concern that arose in Abp. Gallagher’s statement was that of religious freedom. Although clearly recognised as a fundamental right, he said that this “must not be limited to the private sphere” but should also entail “respecting the right of religious communities”, and the ability of religious people to contribute to the public dialogue.
He also expressed concern over the calls of several countries to restrict the right of conscientious objection, and put it forth as an example of how some states were still “uncomfortable with the right of freedom of religion”.
Abp. Gallagher finally pointed to the recent meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi. He said that the historic meeting is an example of how the moral and religious dimension of humanity has to complement that of economics in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.