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Monday, November 17, 2014

The Holy See at the United Nations: defending the civil population from remnants of war

Vatican City, 15 November 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva spoke on 10 November at the 8 th Conference of the States Party to Protocol V of 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). Protocol V stipulates the obligations and the best practices to defend the civil population against the dangers of explosive remnants of war and abandoned ordinances.

“For the sake of credibility and to keep the door open for negotiating and adopting other instruments in the future, it is incumbent upon all States parties to take seriously the implementation of this instrument in its preventative dimension as well as in its remedial dimension”, said Archbishop Tomasi in his English-language address. “The many conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, North Africa and Europe remind us of our responsibilities regarding explosive remnants of war and abandoned ordinances. Apart from the safety of civilians, we are witnessing national and regional destabilisation because of the lack of safety and security of stocks, that the international community is unable or not sufficiently prepared to prevent. … It is true that the primary responsibility lies with the affected State. But international cooperation is also an obligation. Almost all current conflicts involve national, regional and international actors, state actors and non-state actors. It must also be borne in mind that the majority of countries in conflict are developing countries which do not always have sufficient means to overcome the consequences of armed conflict on their soil”.

“The success of the partnership between States, international organisations and non-governmental organisations in several areas of disarmament is well established. CCW, including Protocol V, has always opened its door to the participation of civil society and its organisations. We all profit from the professionalism and expertise of these organisations. We believe they should continue to have a place and a voice in this sphere, and a role to play in international cooperation in the prevention and remedy of damages caused by explosive remnants of war”.

“Wars and armed conflicts are always a failure of politics and of humanity”, he concluded. “International humanitarian law should keep this essential human dimension to make coexistence possible nationally and internationally. When the international community fails to preserve peace, it should not accept a second failure. Protocol V is a modest attempt to prevent innocent people from becoming victims once the conflict is over. Compliance is not only a legal obligation. It is in the first place a moral duty towards the people and a political duty to restore peace”.

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