ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome
War on Terrorism Has to Observe Limits, Says Pope
Insists That Humanitarian Law Is Still in Force
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- International humanitarian law
must be respected both in situations of war as well as in the fight against
terrorism, insists Benedict XVI.
In the face of "new forms" of terrorist violence in an age of globalization,
the Pope proposed a reflection of a juridical, ethical and cultural nature
to see how international law can be implemented, guaranteeing national security.
In his message for World Day of Peace, which will be observed Jan. 1, the
Holy Father recalls that states have committed themselves to respect international
humanitarian law, but says that "unfortunately," this law "has not been consistently
implemented in certain recent situations of war."
Benedict XVI mentions in particular the conflict a few months ago in southern
Lebanon, "where the duty 'to protect and help innocent victims' and to avoid
involving the civilian population, was largely ignored."
"The heart-rending situation in Lebanon and the new shape of conflicts, especially
since the terrorist threat unleashed completely new forms of violence," stresses
the papal message, "demand that the international community reaffirm international
humanitarian law, and apply it to all present-day situations of armed conflict,
including those not currently provided for by international law."
According to the Bishop of Rome, "the scourge of terrorism demands a profound
reflection on the ethical limits restricting the use of modern methods of
guaranteeing internal security."
"Increasingly, wars are not declared, especially when they are initiated
by terrorist groups determined to attain their ends by any means available,"
he writes. "In the face of the disturbing events of recent years, States
cannot fail to recognize the need to establish clearer rules to counter effectively
the dramatic decline that we are witnessing.
"War always represents a failure for the international community and a grave
loss for humanity."
Benedict XVI continues: "When, despite every effort, war does break out,
at least the essential principles of humanity and the basic values of all
civil coexistence must be safeguarded; norms of conduct must be established
that limit the damage as far as possible and help to alleviate the suffering
of civilians and of all the victims of conflicts."