The principle of subsidiarity was first developed in the encyclical Rerum novarum of 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, in an attempt to articulate a middle course between laissez-faire capitalism on the one hand and the various forms of communism, which subordinate the individual to the state, on the other. The principle is now one of the main tenet of Catholic Social Teaching and the Roman Catholic Church. In it common terms it can be explained to mean “part of”. For full human right to be realized, there is the need to recognize the fact that we are all part of one human family. In his book, The Vison of Catholic Social Thought: The Virtue of Solidarity and the Praxis of Human right, Clark was emphatic that the duty to create the conditions for greater exercise of human rights is the duty of individuals, families, communities, nations and the international community. This means when we recognize that every human being, no matter the condition or social status is created in the image of God, we will be respecting people’s dignity to live. This principle has been applied in many ways to the benefit of human development. For instance the European Union commission still applies the subsidiarity principle in dealing with it member states since 1995 especially in it legislations.
According to Pope Francis, the many situation of inequality, poverty and injustice are signs not only of a profound lack of fraternity but also of the absence of a culture of solidarity. New ideologies, characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds fueling that “throw away” mentality. The right of people are severely disrespected in our days because solidarity is gradually losing it place and value. One class of people who have responsibility to promote solidarity is the individuals in society. It is a simple fact that we cannot live and exist well independently of others, we are interdependent beings. A philosopher, Thomas Pogge posits that individuals and citizens bear the duties and obligations to respect, promote and protect human rights. Human right and solidarity are interrelated because solidarity can be founded when human rights are respected. This can be achieved through equality, mutuality, and reciprocity (Clark, 2014). It means with individuals as agents to promote human right and solidarity, we need to do unto others as we want to be done unto (Matthew 7:12). We are all one family in the world. Building a community that empowers everyone to attain their full potential through each of us respecting each other’s dignity, rights and responsibilities makes the world a better place to live.
Apart from individuals who are bearers of human right themselves, it is the responsibility of states and nations to promote human right and solidarity of their citizens. We are caught in the real grips of internationalization and globalizations. Nations are forming alliances with others nations as a result of the globalization. These alliances and trade agreement comes with terms and conditions which are at times unfavorable. The state has the responsibility to protect the right of the people and the common good by ensuring the basic right human right of the people are not trampled on with such agreements. Nations also have to ensure that they themselves ensure the autonomy of every individual so to ensure their absolute freedom and not oppress them. It should also ensure there is rule of law which prevent other citizens especially the affluent from maltreating the poor and the vulnerable in whichever form.
Due to globalization, traditional agents of justices have been expanded to include what is called the secondary agents (Clark, 2014). These secondary agents include Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Transnational Corporations (TNCs), and Transnational Networks. In most cases the secondary agents better foster human right and solidarity because they are better equipped as agents of justice than the state and individuals. They have the technical know-how to handle issue of human right and solidarity and are very competent in their executions.
Subsidiarity and solidarity are interrelated per my view. If we create systems that make people feel a part of (subsidiary), their views are respected and are allowed to participate in all form of activities, they become very mutual, they reciprocate the respect they are enjoying and therefore solidarize with people. This leads to respect for the right and dignity of all people.
It can be concluded that the responsibility to promote solidarity and human right lies on every human entity, national states, businesses and corporations.
Clark, M. J. (2014). The Vision of the Catholic Social Thought: The Virtue of Solidarity and the Praxis of Human Rights. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.