Pope welcomes cluster munitions ban, urges more countries to sign

.- It was with "great contentment" that Benedict XVI observed the first day of the worldwide ban on cluster munitions, which took effect on Sunday. The Vatican participated in the talks that led to the international agreement, focusing upon the "logic of peace."

A total of 107 states have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), adopting its ban in May 2008. The convention prohibits “all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Cluster Munitions." According to the CCM, the agreement also includes articles which address victim assistance, the clearance of contaminated areas and the elimination of stockpiles.

On Aug. 1, the agreement became binding in international law. However, countries such as the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan did not sign it. Both Iraq and Afghanistan, where wars are currently taking place, are signatories to the ban but have not yet ratified it.

After the Sunday Angelus at Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father welcomed the news, saying that his first thought goes to “the numerous victims who have suffered and continue to suffer serious physical and moral injuries, even loss of life, from these insidious explosives.”
"With the entry into force of the new Convention, to which I exhort all states to comply, the international community has demonstrated wisdom, foresight and the capacity to pursue a meaningful result in the field of disarmament and international human rights.

He concluded by saying that it is his "hope and encouragement" that States continue to work in this way "with ever greater vigor, for the defense of dignity and human life, for the promotion of integral human development, for the establishment of a peaceful international order and for the realization of the common good of all people and all nations."

In an accompanying Sunday statement, the Vatican highlighted its commitment to the process which led to the convention. It reported the Holy See’s close participation with the other states and said the Holy See was one of the first state to call for a moratorium on the munitions and to ratify the document that entered into force on Sunday.

The Vatican is highly committed to the cause, reads the statement, "in the conviction that the logic of peace is stronger than the logic of war, which in every case must have as an insurmountable limit the protection and preservation of the civil population, and particularly the most vulnerable people."

The first meeting of the parties involved in the convention's ratification will meet this Nov. 8-12 in Vientiane, Laos.


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