Abstract: Human Dignity and Solidarity in International Development
Drawing on research and experience working with the World Youth Alliance at the United Nations, this presentation will highlight the need for placing the human person at the center of international development. International development must be approached with an understanding of who the human person is: a being with inherent dignity who is searching for the infinite. Solidarity and the gift of self at the most local level, particularly in the family, educate us in what it is to be human and can therefore inform our actions on the global level.
Throughout history, we can point to instances of how human dignity has been violated due to an incomplete understanding of the human person. States and international institutions, through the population control agenda and reproductive rights claims have systematically attacked the dignity of the human person, misunderstood what it means to be in relationship with each other, and failed to respond to genuine human needs. On New Year’s Day, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that “we must never forget that authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension, including the transcendent dimension, and that the person cannot be sacrificed for the sake of attaining a particular good, whether this be economic or social, individual or collective.” Through an examination of history, philosophy of the human person, and specific examples of international development work, this presentation will examine how policy and development projects can respect and embrace the whole human person while using scientifically proven best practices to address concrete development needs, especially in the areas of education, reproductive health, and maternal health.