Holy See Urges Halt to Weapons of Indiscriminate Effects

Calls for Prevention of Proliferation Instead of Remedial Measures

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GENEVA, MARCH 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Technology is updating weapons that injure indiscriminately, faster than international agreements can limit or ban them, warns the Holy See.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, expressed that concern Monday as he called for prevention of such weapons.

He addressed his words to a group of government experts discussing the Convention on the Prohibition or Restriction on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) that may be deemed to cause excessive injuries or have indiscriminate effects. The experts are meeting here through today.

In his address, published Thursday by the Vatican press office, the papal representative said that instead of curing the evils caused by weapons used in past wars, it would be better to prevent their proliferation.

«These victims remind us constantly of the exorbitant cost of any war in general and of the consequences of the choice and use of some arms in particular,» Archbishop Tomasi said.

«The multilateral negotiations of arms control or of disarmament still remain slow and long, and results are reached almost always on the basis of the lowest common denominator,» he said.

«On the contrary, the production of new conventional arms follows the most advanced and the most rapid scientific and technological discoveries,» the archbishop lamented.

«The result is that these arms are more and more devastating and cause useless human suffering for much longer periods of time than the conflicts themselves,» he continued.

«Cluster bombs, which are increasingly being used in armed conflicts, illustrate tragically this worrying reality,» the Vatican representative said.

«In this context, states-parties should pay particular attention to this type of ‘submunition,’ bearing in mind its traumatizing and devastating effects on civilian populations as well as the negative socioeconomic consequences both during and after hostilities,» Archbishop Tomasi added.

The «Holy See is involved in a great number of countries of all the regions, in initiatives concerning victims of armed conflicts and their families, including victims of antipersonnel mines and explosive remnants of war,» the archbishop told the experts.

He went on to describe «the frustration and discouragement of thousands of volunteer workers who are obliged to repeat over and over again the job that has already been done and, in some cases, have to watch the sufferings of the victims without any form of action.»

«It seems to me inappropriate to limit our work and decisions to the quest solely for remedial measures,» the archbishop said.

«Prevention is surely less costly in terms of human lives and socioeconomic damage. A culture of prevention is the most appropriate in order to ensure a security which is based on justice, trust and cooperation between states,» he said.

«For that reason, the right equilibrium should be that of an armament maintained at the lowest level and whose effects would bring about minimal suffering and damages,» he added. «There is no need to add to the failure of war in resolving problems its success in causing as many victims and as much unhappiness as possible.»

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