by Teofilo Contreras
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The Vatican, under it's official name "Holy See" is a non-member permanent observer of the UN, the WHO, UNESCO and other related organizations, including even the International Commission for Atomic Energy.
Being a permanent observer empowers the Holy See not only with a voice, in international conferences, but with a vote also. The Vatican has used this power for many humanitarian and social activities of indisputable value for society. However, it has also used this power to meddle in women's sexual rights, to intervene in world population discussions and to obstruct HIV protection campaigns, to mention a few.
There is a movement (lead by the Catholics for a Free Choice organization) called "See Change" which is trying to change the status of the Holy See before the UN. The proposal is to have the Holy See considered an NGO instead of a Nation, like other religious organizations in the world.
I don't know enough about international law, but as far as I have read, there are real possibilities of convincing the UN that the Holy See is not a Nation. The proposal is based on many facts and characteristics of the Holy See and the Vatican State. Vatican City is a free and sovereign state recognized by the majority of the world; however, the non-member permanent observer is the Holy See, not Vatican City. There is no permanent citizenship for Vatican City. The number of citizens at one point in time is around one thousand and is transitory, only through the duration of their employment within the Vatican. Only the diplomatic ambassadors are given a passport. There is an hilarious number of women and children with Vatican Citizenship at any time.
The UN must be fair towards all religions of the world, especially in times of serious friction between Islamic and Christian worlds. I really don't see how an organization with no population can have a vote in international population conferences. If their claim is to be an organization that is there for spiritual reasons, why are they trying to influence the legal and scientific affairs of the world nations?
If this subject is interesting to you, visit the web site of the See Change movement at www.seechange.org . It's certainly is not an agnostic site, but it's seems headed in the right direction.