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Appeal to the international community

By the Dominican General Chapter

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Providence (RI), August 8 2001, on the Feast of Saint Dominic

On the feast of Saint Dominic, the Dominican General Chapter raises a pressing appeal to the international community.

The delegates, coming from more than one hundred countries, express their strong preoccupation concerning the repeated attacks directed against human dignity in three particular domains. Far from wanting to impose its vision of the world and faithfulness to its tradition, the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) invites all men and women of good will to work together to put an end to these situations of injustice which destroys the human person.

By maintaining the death penalty on the one hand, and by enacting international sanctions on the other, sanctions which hit civil populations without discernment, and, finally, by depriving the weakest of the possibility of access to the means of care, our society maintains in place the structures which demean those who are the victims as well as those who tolerate these structures.

Confident in the capacity of the human person, who is created in the image of God, to resolve the evils which he inflicts upon himself and having bourne this experience in all five continents, the members of the Order appeal to the men and women of good will, and more particularly those who belong to the Catholic faith, to do all they can to transcend these situations of injustice and allow for our societies to become the means in service to the fulfillment of humanity.

Call for the Abolition of the Death Penalty

A/ Call for the Abolition of the Death Penalty.

Reunited at Providence, R.I., U.S.A., from July 9 to August 8, 2001, the General Chapter of the Order of Preachers, which gathers the delegates of Dominican Friars from more than one hundred countries, calls upon all the states of the international community to abolish the death penalty, without delay and in all circumstances.

In the name of the Christian faith and of principles common to our humanity, the General Chapter calls on all people of good will, and especially Catholics, to work ardently for the abolition of the death penalty and to become actors for a culture of life.

B/ Call for a Moratorium on Executions.

The death penalty goes against the political virtue of clemency. Not only does it destroy the life of the person it is applied to, but it also injures the dignity of the citizens in whose name it is pronounced or applied.

Moreover, judicial statistics indicate that this punishment is not dissuasive. They also show that the death penalty is often applied in a discriminatory way to the detriment of the most deprived, particularly of those who belong to minorities.

By its definitive character, the application of the death penalty deprives the condemned of all possibility of amending their ways, but also of the faculty of making reparation for the prejudice done to their victims.

Moreover, by its irreversible character, it also deprives society of all means of review in the case of judicial error. It places the burden of responsibility for the death of an innocent person on the citizens, in whose name the verdict was given.

Therefore, taking on as its own the call for a moratorium made by Pope John-Paul II (Christmas 1998), the General Chapter of the Order of Preachers asks all Governments that have not yet abolish the death penalty to suspend executions without delay.

Call for the Lifting of Economic Sanctions

Gathered at Providence, R.I., U.S.A., from July 9 to August 8, 2001, the General Chapter of the Order of Preachers, which gathers the delegates of Dominican Friars from more than one hundred countries, call for the revision of the economic sanctions.

The economic sanctions, imposed as an alternative to the use of force, notably against Iraq and Cuba, have not obtained the desired effects for democracy and peace, but have had devastating effects on the civil populations.

Imposed by the Security Counsel of the United Nations to assure the return to peace in the Gulf region, economic sanctions against Iraq have brought about the death of several hundreds of thousands of children below the age of five (500, 000 according to the same organization, between the years 1991 - 1995, alone).

According to a U.N. study (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/33), these sanctions have therefore violated international law. They have damaged peoples that the U.N. has as its mission to protect, as recognized by the Secretary General of the United Nations (CS : 24/03/2000).

Maintaining such economic sanctions without time constraints is now aimed more at protecting particular interests than re-establishing the peace and security of the populations concerned. Furthermore, it contributes, to maintaining a climate of violence in the international community.

Based on its Christian faith and on an ethic respectful of the dignity of all human life, and recalling the fundamental principles which govern the international community, the General Chapter of the Order of Preachers calls all parties in the conflict to look for alternative means of the pacific settlement of disputes.

Taking up the appeals of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Etchegarray, the General Chapter of the Order of Preachers, through the voice of its permanent delegate to the U.N., renews the call addressed to the politicians in charge and to the citizens of the countries involved, especially to Catholics, to apply all within their efforts to bring to an end the sanctions that, still today, strike civil populations indiscriminately.

The fight against hiv-aids in developing nations

Bearing in mind the sacred character of life, we, the delegates of the Dominican Friars from more than one hundred countries, reunited at Providence, RI, USA, from July 9 to August 8, 2001, appeal to all the countries of the world concerning the global threat that is represented by the aids epidemic. We unite our voices to the voice of the Holy See to request that the national and international organizations do all that is in their power to improve the lives of those suffering from this disease and to support prevention programs that respect the dignity of the human person.

The aids epidemic is a world-wide tragedy. It has taken on alarming proportions in countries of the South and especially in the sub-Saharan parts of the African continent. According to the UN, of the 34.3 million patients throughout the world, 24.5 million live in Africa alone, and of these, very few have access to care.

The disease is global; but access to care is not globalized. Nevertheless, while a vaccine has yet to be discovered, the means of containing this epidemic exist. These means are of three categories: medical care; intensive campaigning for information and educational efforts; structures for adequate care in all countries that have been contaminated.

The deterioration of public health in many developing countries has attracted the attention of international opinion to the greater difficulties that these countries face when it comes to the access and fabrication of medications within the actual limits of the World Trade Organization.

The necessary remedies for the prevention and treatment of AIDS are sold at a prohibitive price for the poorer countries, which are the most affected. However, certain firms have been accused of being preoccupied with profits as witnessed by the Johannesburg lawsuit of April 2001. Even if, for the first time, the lawsuit has brought about a retreat on the part of the firms and has permitted one to hope for a reduction in the prices of treatments by means of generic drugs, the problems remain.

· We denounce the perverse effects of the actual use of these pharmaceutical patents (the TRIPS Agreement - Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) which prevents access to generic medications in developing countries, and we are oppose to a revision of these agreements that would be unfavourable to the impoverished and the deprived.

· We ask the governments of the wealthiest countries to agree on a reduction of the debt for the poorer indebted countries in order to allow them to allot this money in the fight against HIV.

· We ask that the governments of developing countries, assisted by the NGO's, put in place an effective policy of information and prevention, of defense of the family and of education of human sexuality; that they make the fight against AIDS a national priority; that they import and that they produce generic drugs in greater quantities; that they assure, with international help, that the necessary material structures are in place so that the sick can have access to care.

· We ask the Organization of the United Nations (Onusida) to act through all the means necessary, along with pharmaceutical industries and with governments, to put in place an effective policy to fight against AIDS in developing countries, and to activate the Fonds de Soutien Thérapeutique International (FSTI). puce


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