.- During his address at the 11th session of the Convention for the prohibition or limitation of the use of some conventional weapons that can produce excessive or indiscriminate traumatic effects, the Holy See’s representative, Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, called for a moratorium on the production and use of hidden weapons, especially antipersonnel mines.
The archbishop noted that the use of certain armaments in numerous conflicts following World War II allow us today “to make objective judgments from the standpoint of humanitarian international law, as well as from a strictly pragmatic point of view, about the consequences of the use of an entire category of arms,” especially antipersonnel mines.
Archbishop Tomasi underscored that numerous humanitarian organizations have shown that today there is need “to seriously reflect on the legitimacy of the use of mines.”
“The dead and wounded victims of mines number in the millions,” he said, noting as well the difficulty they pose for refugees who wish to return to their homelands and for the development of those countries contaminated by unexploded mines.
The high rate of failure of these arms and the high civilian cost, explained Archbishop Tomasi, has led some countries to conclude that these arms “pose a serious and disproportionate problem with respect to their military advantage.”
“We cannot help but salute this choice for precaution and responsibility,” he said, adding that the Holy See fully supports the resolution of the European Parliament calling for “an immediate moratorium on the use, accumulation, production and transfer or exportation of mines.”
Archbishop Tomasi also noted that simply “limiting the reflection to the question of improving the quality of mines” would be insufficient and inadequate, “considering that because of their very concept, these are not weapons of precision” and that they “make distinction between military and civilian targets very difficult, if not impossible.” Thus, “the very legitimacy of these weapons is in question.”
Lastly, Archbishop Tomasi said the Holy See supports an international dialogue to create a regulatory body that would over see the use or elimination of these arms. “The moratorium on the use of mines should be prolonged during this entire period of consultation.”