The true greatness of a society can be measured by how it recognises and protects human dignity and human rights, according to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Addressing the 27th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Children in New York on Friday, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo stated that full recognition of a child's human dignity had been lost and must be recovered. And he urged that society and the state should only interfere with family life when the family fails. "The true measure of a society's greatness is the extent to which the society recognises and protects human dignity and human rights and ensures the well-being of all its members, especially children," he told delegates from 180 countries. "The process of human development in all its aspects is the result of a synergy between the family and society. The best interests of the child makes it necessary for the child to have an adequate relationship with the family, based on marriage, the cradle and sanctuary of life.Therefore, the Holy See believes that the rights of children and the rights of the family should be articulated together. Only when the family fails should society and the State provide children with what they need, hopefully in a family-like environment." "My Delegation believes that legislation is needed to protect children from all forms of exploitation and abuse, as in the case of incest and paedophilia, as well as through labour, slavery, the abominable crimes of prostitution and pornography, kidnapping, their use as soldiers or guerrillas, or as victims of armed conflicts or of international or unilateral sanctions imposed on some countries. All these scourges are an affront and a scandal to humanity. These various forms of violence must not go unpunished." In his conclusion Cardinal Lopez Trujillo said that the Holy See questioned what he called "the myth of overpopulation" claiming that the most recent data and demographic trends showed such an approach to be unconvincing. "The best interests of children are not recognised when population policies are imposed that go against the rights of the family and children. First of all, the fundamental right to life must be recognised." The Cardinal's address came at the end of a tough week of negotiation and controversy at the General Assembly. Negotiations went down to the wire, continuing throughout the nights preceding Friday's addresses, in an attempt to complete an action plan for improving children's lives. The Holy See, Muslim countries (including Sudan Iran and Pakistan), and the United States formed an unusual alliance in their shared unwillingness to accept language that promoted abortion. Eventually compromises were reached when the EU, at least temporarily agreed to removing the phrase "reproductive health services" from the finished document. The final outcome was a document entitled 'A World suitable for children', which includes programmes to protect children from poverty, disease and abuse, with specific targets for the coming decade. Delegates also finally agreed on 21 new objectives on the level of health, education, protection from exploitation and violence and combating HIV/AIDS.
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