Vatican Ratifies Protocol on "Explosive Remnants of War"

First Multilateral International Agreement of Benedict XVI

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2005 ( The Holy See has ratified the «Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War» aimed at eliminating the unexploded artillery shells and similar devices that pose post-conflict humanitarian threats.

The ERW, as the protocol is known, annexed to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW). The protocol was adopted in 2003 at the end of at the meeting of the states parties to the CCW.

It addresses the first legal international agreement of a multilateral character of the Holy See during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, submitted the necessary paperwork on the protocol to the office of the U.N. secretary-general last Tuesday.

The papal representative said that with the move the Holy See «intends to renew its encouragement to the international community to continue on the path it has taken for the reduction of human suffering caused by armed conflict.»

Shells, grenades

According to the Vatican, the CCW is confirmed as a «forward-looking living instrument of international humanitarian law, intended to address the problems arising from modern armed conflicts and to improve its effectiveness for the protection of civilians and combatants in such situations.»

The protocol addressed problems dealing with items such unexploded artillery shells, hand grenades, mortars, rockets and other similar ordnance that remain after the end of an armed conflict.

«Although one could have wished for a greater incisiveness in the protocol in responding to the problems originating from the ERW, the adoption of this instrument represents an important multilateral tool for the control of arms for humanitarian reasons, capable of calling states to responsibility for the ERW and for damages caused by them,» said the Vatican representative.

«The Holy See is convinced that the Fifth Protocol signifies a further step along the path of the international community’s journey of concretely promoting the culture of life and of peace,» concluded the declaration.

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