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2020.10.01 Archbishop Gallagher 2020.10.01 Archbishop Gallagher 

Archbishop Gallagher: Rebuild multilateralism for social justice

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States highlights the deepening inequalities caused by the COVID-19 crisis and calls for substantial reforms in world trade and finance. He issued the appeal during the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

By Lisa Zengarini

Countries should "recover the notion of interdependence and re-build multilateralism around the ideals of social justice and mutual responsibility among and within nations", Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher told UNCTAD on Tuesday.

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States was addressing its 15th quadrennial conference (UNCTAD15) which is hosted by Barbados on the theme  “From inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all”. The online session, which runs from 3 to 7 October, is focused on aligning the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development with the global “new normal” created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fragility of the present economic model  

In his address, Archbishop Gallagher called on UNCTAD to “reaffirm the centrality of multilateralism” and to relaunch dialogue “on real reforms in trade, finance and development”. These reforms are all the more urgent in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic which “has dramatically exposed existing fault-lines and fragilities in the prevailing economic model”, he remarked.

Indeed, technological change, hyper-globalization, unregulated financial markets have accentuated extreme inequality, which has re-emerged “as a prevailing feature of the contemporary world”, the prelate noted.  In this context, he said, the COVID-19 crisis provides a “unique opportunity” for “sustainable change” aimed at the “authentic integral human development”, as called for by Pope Francis.  

Policy and regulatory shifts needed to overcome inequalities

Archbishop Gallagher, pointed out that making substantial advancement in economic and social inclusion requires “important policy and regulatory shifts in several areas”. He mentioned fiscal redistribution and increasing the progressiveness of income taxation schedules and adequate enforcement of corporate taxation, especially multinational enterprises (MNEs).

Ambitious multilateral approach to debt restructuring 

The Secretary for Relations with States further noted that the recent decision of the G-20 and the Paris Club to suspend bilateral debt service repayments for a select number of vulnerable developing countries hit by the COVID-19 crisis, though important, is not enough: “A much more ambitious multilateral approach to debt restructuring and relief is needed”, he said.

Wider access to vaccines and medications

He also reiterated the need for a waiver on World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property rules to allow poorer countries access to COVID-19 medications and vaccines, as proposed by South Africa and India and supported from the very beginning by the Holy See.

Mitigating climate change

He, further spoke about climate justice, highlighting, once again, the need to support developing countries in the decarbonisation process, as well as in adapting to the effects of climate change.

A new ethics of the common good

In the final part of his address, Archbishop Gallagher called for a “new ethics of the common good” as opposed to the “individualistic ideology” which has dominated world economy and international relations over the past decades, resulting in deeper inequalities.  “Such an ethical approach to development has to be embodied in a new multilateral architecture that would allow us to turn the page on years of selfishness and loss of civic values and culture”, he said.

06 October 2021, 20:09