The state is an instrument to promote human dignity, protect human rights and develop the common good. Subsidiarity says that these government functions must be performed at the lowest level possible. Higher levels of government must intervene only when a function cannot be adequately performed at a lower level.
This principle goes hand-in-hand with participation, the principle that all peoples have a right to participate in the economic, political and cultural life of society, and in decisions that affect their communities.
Rather than sending “development experts” or Canadian volunteers to run projects in the Global South, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada supports local grassroots organizations. These partners work to promote alternatives to unjust systems and find solutions that benefit whole communities. Recognizing the expertise of local people in matters that affect them, our partnership model empowers local people to be the agents of their own development, on their terms.
We also encourage international cooperation and responsible governance. Too often, governments act in self-interest or in the interests of corporations and powerful people, instead of acting the interest of local communities. This can allow conflicts to fester internally or with other states. Subsidiarity affirms the state’s role of empowering just institutions and communities; respond to people’s needs and aspirations; and collaborating with other states to build a more equitable world.