Vatican Seeks to Introduce New Principle to U.N. Charter

“Humanitarian Intervention” Would Protect Unarmed Civilians

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 24, 2004 ( In the midst of the debate taking place at present on the reform of the United Nations, the Holy See proposes that the principle of «humanitarian intervention» be introduced in the U.N. Charter.

The initiative was explained by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, in an interview published Sept. 22 by the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

The Reform Commission, instituted by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, handed in its first results on June 7; they are currently being studied by the United States.

In this context, the Italian Cardinal revealed that the «Holy See hopes that a new principle will be introduced in the United Nations Charter, namely, the possibility, or rather the duty of a ‘humanitarian intervention’ in obvious cases in which the human rights of a population are trampled.»

In his message for the 2000 World Day of Peace, John Paul II explained the exact terms of the Holy See’s proposal.

«Clearly, when a civilian population risks being overcome by the attacks of an unjust aggressor and political efforts and non-violent defense prove to be of no avail, it is legitimate and even obligatory to take concrete measures to disarm the aggressor. These measures, however, must be limited in time and precise in their aims. They must be carried out in full respect for international law, guaranteed by an authority that is internationally recognized and, in any event, never left to the outcome of armed intervention alone,» the message reads.

«The fullest and the best use must therefore be made of all the provisions of the U.N. Charter, further defining effective instruments and modes of intervention within the framework of international law. In this regard, the U.N. Organization itself must offer all its member states an equal opportunity to be part of the decision-making process, eliminating privileges and discriminations which weaken its role and its credibility,» John Paul II concludes.

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