NEW YORK, OCT. 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The violence of terrorism will not be solved by more violence, a Vatican aide told the U.N. General Assembly.
Terrorism can only be combated if its causes are eliminated, the aide said.
“Justice, not vengeance, must be our goal,” Archbishop Renato Martino, the Vatican´s permanent observer at the United Nations, said when he addressed the members of the 1st Committee of the U.N. General Assembly on Monday. The committee met to discuss disarmament.
“First, those responsible must be apprehended and brought to justice through due process,” Archbishop Martino said. “This must be done in a way that does not expose even more innocent civilians to death and destruction.”
“Violence on top of violence will only lead to more violence,” he warned.
In the second place, the archbishop said, “we do disservice to those who have died in this tragedy, if we fail to search out the causes. Here, a broad canvas of political, economic, social, religious and cultural factors emerges.”
“The common denominator of these factors is hate,” he emphasized. “This is a hate that transcends any one people or region. It is a hatred of humanity itself. This hatred even kills the one who hates.”
“Though poverty is not itself the cause of terrorism, we cannot combat terrorism successfully if we do not address the worsening disparities between the rich and poor,” Archbishop Martino continued. “We must recognize that global disparity is fundamentally incompatible with global security.
“Any serious crime reduction cannot be confined only to intensified police work. Any serious campaign against terrorism needs to address the social, economic and political conditions that nurture the emergence of terrorism.”
Referring to disarmament, the question being addressed by the General Assembly, the Vatican permanent observer emphasized that many present conflicts are fought with light arms — a fact often forgotten by the public.
“With their ease of use and ready availability, small arms are weapons of choice for today´s combatants,” Archbishop Martino said. “The supply of almost limitless quantities of small arms and light weapons, through areas of high tension, has fueled numerous civil wars and social chaos. Small arms kill upwards of 10,000 people a week. Most of these victims are civilians.”
Archbishop Martino criticized the international community for not taking action to prohibit antipersonnel mines once and for all. He mentioned even more serious inconsistencies as regards the question of biochemical weapons.
Noting that there is still no agreement on the protocol that seeks to reinforce the Biological Weapons Convention, the archbishop called the “another setback for the international cooperation that is so necessary to prevent terrorism.”
“Combating the dangers of terrorist use of deadly organisms requires more credible international institutions of arms control than the present ones,” he stressed.
Archbishop Martino renewed the appeal, expressed by the Vatican on several occasions, for the global application of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
“We must now tackle the central problem of nuclear weapons, especially the mentality of those who possess them, and claim that they are essential to security,” he said.
“Now is the time to dispel this claim, and to declare that the continued possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is endangering all humanity and that they must be abolished,” the prelate insisted.
“The basic requirements for the peace we seek is the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the curbing of the arms trade, and the eradication of massive, endemic poverty. We have no choice if humanity is to survive,” he warned.
He added: “Rather than intervening in violent conflicts after they have erupted, and then engaging in post-conflict peace building, it is more humane and more efficient to prevent such violence in the first place by addressing its roots.”