2004 World Day of Peace to Emphasize International Law

Humanity Facing a Crucial Challenge, Says Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 17, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The next World Day of Peace will focus on the importance of international law as a guarantee of peaceful relations among nations.

The theme chosen for the Jan. 1 event is «International Law: A Path for Peace.» In a statement today, the Vatican press office underlined the fragility of international law, particularly in the functioning of the United Nations, as seen in the context of the recent war in Iraq.

«Humanity is facing a crucial challenge,» the Vatican statement said. «If it does not succeed in giving itself truly effective institutions to eliminate the scourge of war, the risk exists that the law of force will prevail over the force of law.»

The proposed theme stems from a conviction of John Paul II, who said in a Jan. 13, 1997, speech to the diplomatic corps at the Vatican: «International law has been for a long time a law of war and of peace. I think that it is increasingly called to be exclusively a law of peace conceived in function of justice and solidarity.»

The Vatican statement today said: «The fundamental principles that inspire such a conviction are the same ones that animate the commitment of the Church in favor of peace: equality in the dignity of every human person and every human community, the unity of the human family, and the primacy of law over force.»

The note added that peace «is not simply the absence of war, nor can it be reduced only to make the balance of litigant forces stable, nor is it the effect of a despotic domination, rather it defines itself with all precision as a ‘work of justice’ (Isaiah 32:17).»

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