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A Framework for Hope

The contemporary world is experiencing a growing and steady social fragmentation, which places at risk the foundations of social life and consequently leads to battles over conflicting interests. Critical global decisions are required in the face of world-wide conflicts which increase the number of the excluded and those in need.

An agenda of hope for the future benefit of all humanity does exist, for two reasons.

First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Humankind is at the same time an ecological component of the environment. We possess a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favourable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.

Second, because every creature has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. The environment is therefore a fundamental good. The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action.

Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offence against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offences, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society,forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. The poor are part and parcel of today's widespread and quietly growing culture of waste,

Solemn commitments are not enough even though they are a necessary step toward solutions. Our fragmenting world demands of all government leaders a will to preserve and improve the natural environment thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of children, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and international organized crime.

To enable men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.

This presupposes and requires the right to education. Education conceived in this way is the basis for the implementation of the United Nation's 2030 Agenda and for reclaiming the environment. For development to be effective, there has to be practical and immediate access,to essential material and spiritual goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and drinking water; religious freedom and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education.

If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and between peoples. To this end, there is a need to ensure the uncontested rule of law and tireless recourse to negotiation, mediation and arbitration, as proposed by the Charter of the United Nations, which constitutes a fundamental juridical norm.

The experience of these seventy years since the founding of the United Nations in general, and in particular the experience of these first fifteen years of the third millennium, reveal both the effectiveness of the full application of international norms and the ineffectiveness of their lack of enforcement. When the Charter of the United Nations is respected and applied as an obligatory reference point of justice, peaceful results will be obtained. When, on the other hand, the norm is considered simply as an instrument to be used whenever it proves favourable, and to be avoided when it is not, a true Pandora's box is opened, releasing uncontrollable forces.

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