Force of Law Must Prevail Over Law of Force, Vatican Tells U.N.

Holy See’s Representative Addresses Session of Disarmament Panel

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NEW YORK, APRIL 2, 2003 ( The Vatican’s observer at the United Nations called for a commitment to disarmament based on dialogue and multilateral negotiation rather than blunt force.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Vatican permanent observer to the United Nations, made that appeal Tuesday during the annual session of the Commission on Disarmament. His statement came as U.S. troops in Iraq were advancing toward Baghdad.

Archbishop Migliore said that we «are confronted by two opposing perspectives: the first is based on the conviction that conflicts can be resolved by determined and broad-based willingness to negotiate effectively in light of the ways and wisdom of the law.»

«The second perspective,» he said, «maintains that, in the face of elusive and re-emergent threats, force is more efficacious and direct.»

The latter position «appears to only reduce international cooperation in disarmament rather than enhance it, inducing negative repercussions on multilateralism,» he said.

In his address, Archbishop Migliore said that the system of armament control has functioned effectively and obtained significant results in the last decades. Thus, he said, it should be reinforced to resolve the new threats that emerge.

Referring to the present international situation, Archbishop Migliore emphasized the urgent need to spread a «clear message in favor of the force of law and not the law of force.»

Given the interdependence among nations and the risk of mutual destruction, the archbishop also stressed the importance that «all states and individuals enforce decisively the laws and procedures that have been established towards nuclear disarmament and the elimination if the threats posed by conventional arms.»

He added: «This is the moment that each one of us, aware of the gravity of the present situation when law must be chosen to prevail over force, must be animated by a profound sense of responsibility towards the disarmament process.»

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