Peace Demands Respect for International Commitments, Says Pope

Especially Promises Made to Poor Countries

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2002 ( John Paul II warned rich countries that, if they want peace, they must fulfill the commitments made in international conferences, especially those to poor countries.

“Political summits on the regional and international levels serve the cause of peace only if joint commitments are then honored by each party,” the Pope stresses in his Message for the World Day of Peace, Jan. 1, published today.

“Otherwise these meetings risk becoming irrelevant and useless, with the result that people believe less and less in dialogue and trust more in the use of force as a way of resolving issues,” the Holy Father adds.

“The negative repercussions on peace resulting from commitments made and then not honored must be carefully assessed by state and government leaders,” the Pope continues.

Quoting the Latin adage “pacta sunt servanda” (“agreements must be kept”), the Pontiff says that if “at all times commitments ought to be kept, promises made to the poor should be considered particularly binding.”

“Especially frustrating for them is any breach of faith regarding promises that they see as vital to their well-being,” the papal message continues. “In this respect, the failure to keep commitments in the sphere of aid to developing nations is a serious moral question and further highlights the injustice of the imbalances existing in the world.”

“The suffering caused by poverty is compounded by the loss of trust. The end result is hopelessness. The existence of trust in international relations is a social capital of fundamental value,” the message says.

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