Charles K. Wilber: Benedict at the UN on Human Rights and Human Development

“The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security.” With this statement Pope Benedict XVI emphasizes that true human development in the world must be built upon respect for fundamental human rights. To ignore these rights is to promote a distorted and unethical development. We see this result in the food shortages around the world that have led to riots in Haiti, many countries in Africa, and that threaten to do so in Malaysia and Indonesia. Simple free market driven development, where success is measured by increases in per capita GDP, runs the risk of leaving out the poorest and most marginalized peoples. Their human rights must be respected, as they are embedded in the fact that they are human beings made in the image and likeness of God.

Charles K. Wilber is emeritus professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame.