By Robin Gomes
“The Holy See intends to renew its encouragement and appeal to the international community to continue on the path it has taken for the reduction of human suffering and to mitigate the negative consequences of hostilities.” “Every step in this direction contributes to increasing awareness that the cruelty of conflicts must be done away with in order to resolve tensions by dialogue and negotiation, and also by ensuring that international law is respected,” said Arch. Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva last week.
He was addressing a UN meeting of parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which, he said, cause excessive injuries or have indiscriminate effects.
The Holy see expressed satisfaction over progress in prohibiting or regulating specific types of armaments but expressed serious concerns over the use of explosive and incendiary weapons, and Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) or robotic weapons.
He pointed to the devastating effects of explosive weapons in populated areas that cause deadly injuries and permanent impairments. They often leave behind deadly explosive remnants of war which can kill or maim civilians long after the end of hostilities.
The use of ever more powerful conventional weapons in urban settings, he said, cause millions of refugees and displaced persons. The use of these “weapons of mass displacement” can devastate entire cities, schools, hospitals, infrastructures and services essential to the population, he said.
Noting the “excruciatingly painful burns leading to long-term physical and psychological injuries or death” caused by incendiary weapons, the Holy See’s diplomat urged for strengthening Protocol II in order to reduce human suffering and enhance the protection granted to the civilians and combatants.
The Holy See’s Permanent Observer expressed satisfaction over greater interaction and convergence among various parties, especially with regard to the ethical and legal considerations of the use of LAWS or robotic weapons.
However, Archbishop Jurkovic lamented that atrocities and grave offences against the dignity of the human person are being perpetrated in the name of military and political demands.