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Pope to IDLO: Justice and rule-of-law strengthen world peace

By Michele Raviart

The Holy See “stands at the side of all those who struggle to strengthen the rule of law, human rights and social justice, so that their efforts may show new pathways of hope towards a more supportive, just, and peaceful future for all nations of the planet.”

Pope Francis emphasised this reality in a message addressed to the Assembly of the Parties of IDLO, the International Development Law Organization, marking its 40th anniversary at a meeting in Rome. The objective of the intergovernmental institution, the Pope says, is to promote the rule-of-law “in order to move towards peace and sustainable development, encouraging different initiatives to ensure that justice is accessible to all, especially the most disadvantaged in society.”

No crisis should challenge the rule of law

In his message, the Pope recalls that justice is the prerequisite “for achieving social harmony and universal fraternity that we need so much today” and is “the virtue necessary for building a world in which conflicts are resolved only in a peaceful manner, without the will of the strongest prevailing, but the force of law.” The Pope notes that, “unfortunately, we are far from achieving this goal.” The increase in violence in the world, the consequences of climate change, corruption, and inequality do not justify in any way “even the slightest exception, not even in times of crisis” to the application of the rule of law, which is “at the service of the human person and meant to protect human dignity, and this does not admit of exceptions.” An erroneous conception of the person is also spreading in democracies, which “weakens its very protection and progressively opens the door to serious abuses under the guise of the good.”

Justice makes societies more stable and prosperous

The rule of law must be guaranteed by the authorities “regardless of prevailing political interests,” and when based on universal values, “people have access to justice, and societies are more stable and prosperous.” For this reason, the Pope emphasises, “it can play an essential role in resolving global crises, renewing trust and the legitimacy of public governance, combating inequalities, promoting well-being, fostering the protection of fundamental rights, encouraging adequate participation in decision-making, and facilitating the development of laws and policies that meet real needs, thus contributing to creating a world in which all people are treated with dignity and respect.”

Addressing climate crisis and corruption

Climate change “is also a matter of international justice,” because the degradation of the planet not only prevents peaceful and harmonious coexistence in the present, but also compromises to a large extent the integral progress of future generations.” The Pope adds, “by applying a justice approach to climate action, we can provide holistic, inclusive, and equitable responses.” Corruption, he notes, “erodes the very foundations of society,” which is why it is necessary, from an early age, to “promote awareness campaigns that encourage greater transparency, accountability and integrity everywhere.” In conclusion, the Pope says “it is essential to continue taking steps to reach out to the poorest, marginalised and vulnerable, who often have no one to speak on their behalf and see themselves discarded and excluded.”


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