Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, spoke on the current food crisis last week at a meeting of the 2008 Economic and Social Council. The archbishop said that the council must do more than talk about what caused the crisis, and instead take “immediate and effective” action to help those who are starving.
In his English-language talk, the prelate recalled how a recent resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on the "Right to Food" highlights "the obligation of States, with the assistance of the international community, to make every effort to meet the food needs of their populations through measures which respect human rights and the rule of law."
Archbishop Migliore said that he sees the current food crisis as the result of a series of interlocking problems. “Short-sighted economic, agriculture and energy policies which caused a clash between the increasing demand for food items and the insufficient production of food on the one hand, and the increase in financial speculations on commodities, uncontrollable increase of oil prices and adverse climate conditions on the other."
He further added that, "While today's debate will rightly focus on the structural defects of the world economy and on the causes of the emergency, we must work to ensure that this discussion is accompanied by immediate and effective action. Failure to take action will result in this meeting being merely an exercise in rhetoric and procrastination of our responsibilities."
"At the outset, immediate action must be taken to assist those in immediate danger and suffering from malnutrition and starvation. It is difficult to think that in a world which spends over 1.3 trillion dollars (851 billion euro) per year in armaments, the necessary life-saving funds to address the immediate needs of people are unavailable," said Archbishop Migliore.
Looking at more long-term solutions, the Holy See’s representative said that “the initial economic emergency aid must be accompanied by a concerted effort of all to invest in long-term and sustainable agriculture programs at the local and international levels.
He also mentioned the fast-tracking of agrarian reforms in developing countries that would give small scale farmers “the tools for increasing production in a sustainable manner as well as access to local and global markets."
"My delegation," Archbishop Migliore concluded, "welcomes the recommendations of the recent High-level Conference on World Food Security held in Rome at the FAO. These recommendations offer a practical guide on how to deal with short- and long-term consequences of the food crisis and gives guidance on how to guard against future crises."