GENEVA, NOV. 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See expressed disappointment at the lack of commitments at the end of a U.N. conference on conventional weapons that cause indiscriminate or excessive injuries.
Addressing the conference held in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the U.N. office in this Swiss city, underlined the humanitarian consequences of the meeting’s inability to make decisions. The conference was Nov. 7-17.
“It is regrettable that states parties were unable to reach agreement on a legally binding instrument on Mines Other Than Antipersonnel Mines,” said the papal representative.
“Mines other than antipersonnel mines — often termed anti-vehicle mine[s] — laid outside fenced and marked areas, present a substantial risk to peacekeeping operations, humanitarian operations and normal civilian activities,” he noted.
“The failure to achieve such an agreement has left a real disappointment in the expectations of many people who see that it could have provided a good and adequate response to the humanitarian concerns posed by these weapons,” said Archbishop Tomasi.
He added: “For now, then, strong and specific national measures will have to be taken by individual states to make up for this impasse until an international consensus can be reached.”
At the conference, the Holy See supported negotiations “for a legally binding instrument on cluster munitions and opted for a moratorium in the meantime, prompted by the overwhelming evidence of the humanitarian disasters caused by such weapons, especially on the civilian population.”
Humanitarian aid agencies explained during the meeting that it is not enough to call for the withdrawal of cluster munitions. Rather, they must be prohibited, the agencies insisted.
According to these organizations, there are millions of cluster bombs stocked in the world.
Archbishop Tomasi said: “While it is heartening that many countries and civil society groups have become more aware and involved in this important issue, it is sad to take note of the conclusion arrived at the end of this conference that the needed […] mandate could not be formulated with sufficient operative provisions to meet the humanitarian needs.
“Since the humanitarian dimension of this question is so serious, and demanding an urgent response, it is understandable and worthwhile that all additional initiatives that can be taken to move forward the process towards an international agreement be encouraged.”
The prelate added: “The Holy See is ready to cooperate in this endeavor.”