On Monday, the World Health Assembly – the governing forum of the World Health Organisation – formally accepted the Holy See as a non-Member State Observer.
A statement from the Holy See Press Office notes that the decision “reflects the relationship that the Holy See has continuously maintained with this Organization since 1953 and it bears witness to the commitment of the family of nations in addressing, through dialogue and international solidarity, the global health challenges that afflict humanity.”
Italy presented the resolution, co-sponsored by some 70 nations, which recognises the Holy See as a non-Member State Observer, and allows the Holy See to participate in the general debate of the Health Assembly. However, unlike Member States, the Holy See will not have the right to vote or put forward candidates.
The resolution notes that the Holy See has been attending sessions of the Health Assembly as an observer since 1953, just four years after the first assembly, and has likewise been part of the sessions of the executive board as an observer. It also notes the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Status at the United Nations, and its participation, as a member or observer, in various United Nations subsidiary bodies, agencies and intergovernmental organisations.
“I am convinced that the Holy See, which has been providing assistance for years through the organizations of the Catholic Church to millions of needy people around the world, will bring precious value to the World Organization of Health and will further strengthen the spirit of solidarity on a global level,” said Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. “It will be a great inspiration for all Member States.”