STATEMENT BY THE HOLY SEE TO THE UNITED
ON PROHIBITIONS OR RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF CERTAIN CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS
WHICH MAY BE DEEMED TO BE EXCESSIVELY INJURIOUS OR TO HAVE INDISCRIMINATE
STATEMENT BY ARCHBISHOP SILVANO M.
OBSERVER OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Monday, 10 November 2014
I would first like to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency and
for all the preparatory work to make our meeting as productive as possible.
The CCW and its Protocols, including Protocol V, are intended to be an important
part of the fabric of international humanitarian law which is not an end in
itself but a means to protect civilians in armed conflicts. The most perfect
instruments would be useless if their implementation had no concrete
consequences for men and women living in areas of armed conflict. We are all
aware that the adoption of a number of instruments in the disarmament field was
only possible at the level of the lowest common denominator. "Realism" invoked
to convince those who want more robust instruments is the promise of
implementation in good faith which would be an invaluable service to countries
Protocol V did not escape this logic. 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 both its preventive dimension as well as in its remedial
dimension. The many recent conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, North Africa,
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 destabilization because of the lack of safety and security
of stocks, that the international community is unable or not prepared
sufficiently to prevent. The States parties have the responsibility to avoid
Protocol V becoming a text unable to prevent and remedy. In this context, the
implementation of Article 4 of the Protocol is all the more necessary. Without
strict respect for this article, other provisions of this Protocol would be
impossible to meet. We continue to share with the ICRC, other States parties and
various NGOs the same concern about the Article 4 implementation.
It is true that the primary responsibility is that of 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 organizations and
NGOs 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 organizations. We all profit from the professionalism and expertise of these
organizations. We believe they should continue to have a place and a voice in
this place, 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. IHL
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.
I thank you Mr. President.