This is a huge article, very good I would say, on the Rights of Nations from a Catholic perspective focusing on Pope John Paul II's address to the 50th. session of the United Nations General Assembly. I'll quote some extracts below the link to it. I'm glad to say it is written by a fellow Maltese, a good job indeed.



Ambassador Dr. Joseph Cassar*
St. John's University

During his 1995 visit to the United Nations, on the Organization's 50th anniversary, Pope John Paul II invited the world community to discuss and to consider drafting a document addressing the rights of nations. Throughout history, but more so during the past two centuries, the term “nation” has been used and abused, honored and vilified. Together with its derivative terms, “nationality” and “nationalism,” it has inspired millions in their liberation from oppression, but has also cast the darkest shadows in human history, when idolized to become an ideology of intolerance, aggression and conquest.

During the Cold War, the notion of nation helped oppressed peoples preserve their identity and conserve their dignity while under foreign or totalitarian rule. In the Soviet bloc, it instilled the moral fiber to resist and persist until full sovereignty and freedom finally dawned with the USSR's sudden collapse. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the unforeseen spread of ethnic conflicts in Europe and in Africa rekindled new fears of the dangers of extreme nationalism.

Is the call for the codification of the rights of nations justified now that, in most parts of the world, the era of totalitarian ideology appears to have been relegated to history? Rights of Nations examines the importance that the Catholic Church has historically attached to the composite aspects of nationhood and to the duty, which imposes itself on States to safeguard the welfare of national communities. Furthermore, the paper explores whether certain tensions within the context of some more recent international negotiations could reflect a nascent threat to the right of nations to preserve and evolve their distinct identity.

* Joseph Cassar is visiting professor at St. John's University's Center for Global Education (1997-1999). He served as Malta's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York, from 1993 to 1997. Previous appointments include Permanent Representative of Malta to the UN Office in Geneva and Ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) between 1991 to 1993. Most recently he was advisor to the Delegation of the Holy See at the UN Conference for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (Rome, 1998). He was educated at St. Joseph Secondary Technical School, Paola, the Royal University of Malta and the University Carrolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan, Italy. He holds a Doctorate in Political Science specializing in International Affairs, and has contributed regular political and social commentaries to Maltese newspapers and specialized publications. His current research interest includes the identification of Socio-economic Confidence-Building Measures in the post-Cold War Era. Dr. Cassar is a fellow of the Harvard University sponsored Salzburg Seminar (1978 Strategies in Continuing Education). This paper was prepared for and published by the Global Research Monograph Series. No. 004 November 1997 by the Center for Global Education, St. John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11439; (718) 990-1951, and is published with permission."

"The Particular and the Universal

Social processes including migration, mass media and globalization of the economy stimulated an extensive mobility which “has blurred the ethnic and cultural frontiers of different peoples.”

In this “new world horizon,” there is also the powerful re-emergence of ethnic and cultural consciousness reflecting an explosive need for identity, as a counterweight to the tendency toward uniformity. “This is a phenomenon which must not be underestimated or regarded as a simple left over of the past. It demands serious interpretation, and a closer examination on the levels of anthropology, ethics and law.” 28

He noted how “tension between the particular and the universal can be considered immanent in human beings.” While a shared human nature induces identification with the broader human family, the particularities of each person's upbringing nurtures bonding, at different social levels, first within the family and then in the wider local and national community. This inevitable tension, stated the Pope, can be “singularly fruitful if lived in a calm and balanced way.” 29

Acknowledging the difficulty of defining the very concept of ‘nation', the Supreme Pontiff points out that the nation “cannot be identified a priori and necessarily with the State.” Nonetheless, these difficulties should not inhibit a study of the rights of nations, “if we wish to avoid the errors of the past and ensure a just world order.” 30
In a brief schematic manner Pope John Paul II outlines the core rights of nations as:

* The nation's right to exist;
* The nation's right to its own language and culture;
* The nation's right to shape its life according to its own traditions;
* The nation's right to build its future by providing an appropriate education for the younger generation.31

The fundamental right to existence, he states, “does not necessarily call for sovereignty as a State.” The exercise of self-determination in a climate of freedom can determine choice from alternatives that can range from single state sovereignty to various possible forms of juridical aggregation between different nations.32"

"In 1995, sixty years after Stalin's caustic comment, John Paul II invited the United Nations at the age of fifty to take the risk of freedom noting how “the moral dynamics of this universal quest for freedom clearly appeared in Central and Eastern Europe during the non violent revolutions of 1989.” 220 Protesting at the violation of the rights of nations he called for their protection and safeguard. He invited the United Nations to promote a qualitative leap in international life “not only by serving as a center of effective mediation for the resolution of conflicts but also by fostering values, attitudes and concrete initiatives of solidarity which prove capable of raising the level of relations between nations.” 221 This would ensure not only the legal equality of all peoples, he said, but also their active participation in building a better future, not only respect for individual cultural identities, but full esteem for them as a common treasure belonging to the cultural patrimony of mankind. This would bring an end not only to wars of combat but even to cold wars. 222

The indicators that John Paul II gives as part of his reflection on the rights of nations open the widest enriching vistas. They are a re-affirmation of those fundamental values that are the foundation blocks of civil coexistence, nation building and civilization. They are a plea to correct our attitudes towards the wealth of the cultures of all peoples and to shun the arrogance that seeks the imposition of one culture over another. They are a celebration of the might of right."