Interrelated Questions of Peace, Development, Population and Environment

Statement on Global Issues

Chaired by Takeo Fukuda
9-10 March 1987
Rome, Italy

INTRODUCTION

For the first time in recent history, political and spiritual leaders from all continents and five major religions met in Rome at the invitation of the InterAction Council. Over two days the participants engaged in a discussion on world peace, the global economy and the interrelated areas of development, population and environment.

The leaders agreed that humankind is confronted by the greatest set of crises in history, yet measures adequate to meet them have not been defined or devised. Unless there are effective and correct responses to the challenge presented by these crisis, there will be no enduring future.

They further agreed that, in addressing these problems, there are many areas for cooperation between spiritual and political leaders in their shared devotion to moral values, peace and human well-being.

The initial exchange of views resulted in a striking degree of common perception, evaluation of present dangers and recognition of a need for action built on a widely shared ethical basis.

The leaders assembled in Rome agreed that such contacts must be continued by the InterAction Council and others at the global and regional levels, involving political, intellectual and scientific leaders, and should influence, with the support of the media, political decision-making processes.

PEACE

Today peace has lost its true meaning in a world which since World War II has not seen a single day without war, conflict, poverty and widescale human and environmental degradation. Ethical principles shared by all participants led them to conclude that genuine peace can only be accomplished through an ongoing process of dialogue and receptive understanding permeating all areas of society and international contacts.

All participants, therefore, welcomed efforts to bring about disarmament. The United States and the Soviet Union should honor their treaty commitments to achieve cuts in strategic weapon levels and continue negotiations aimed at even further reductions. Policies of countries like the People's Republic of China and Argentina to cut their military budgets provide examples for progress.

Scientific and engineering resources and capabilities presently devoted to the arms race should be redirected to the solution of global problems threatening human survival and welfare: the development of alternative energy resources and new transportation systems and technologies to mitigate the effects of impending climatic changes; the further exploration of the decay of the ozone layer; the prevention of a continued decline in the number of biological species; and measures to counter the threats to the biosphere.

WORLD ECONOMY

For moral, political and economic reasons, humanity must strive towards a more equitable economic structure reversing the present appalling poverty which afflicts vast numbers of human beings throughout the world. Change can only be accomplished through a series of decisions and dialogue predicated on enlightened self-interest on the part of the industrialized and mutually supportive policies on the part of the developing countries.

The debt crisis with its ominous consequences must be resolved with a sense of urgency. Debt servicing cannot be met at the price of suffocating a country's economy and no government can morally demand of its people privations incompatible with human dignity. All parties involved must make a tangible contribution and honor the moral principle of burden-sharing.

Emergency assistance programmes are an indispensable part of ensuring the survival of many people and communities currently enduring abject poverty. There is a paramount need for fostering a sense of global solidarity for survival.

DEVELOPMENT-POPULATION-ENVIRONMENT

It was stressed that moral values for the family in the future and the recognition of the common responsibility of women and men are indispensable in dealing with these issues. Rapid population growth in many developing countries vitiates any advance in development. This fuels the vicious cycle between underdevelopment, population growth and the erosion of human life-support systems. Responsible public policies require systematic projections of population, environmental and economic trends with particular attention to their interaction.

Cognizant of the different approaches of religions towards family planning policies and methods, the leaders yet agreed that present trends make the pursuit of effective family planning inevitable. The positive experience of several countries and religions should be shared and scientific research into family planning should be accelerated.