Holy See urges reduction of cruelty and human suffering in conflicts

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Holy See representative at UU Geneve

A meeting of parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was held at the UN headquarters in Geneve last week to discuss the prohibition and restrictions of the use of certain weapons which cause excessive injuries or have indiscriminate effects.

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, renewed the Holy See’s 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 Mgr. Ivan Jurkovic.

He 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.

The Holy See representative spoke of the devastating effects of explosive weapons in populated areas that cause deadly injuries and permanent impairments and often leave behind explosive remnants of war which can kill or maim civilians long after the hostilities.

The use of powerful 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 the Protocol in order to reduce human suffering and enhance the protection granted to the civilians and combatants.

Mgr. Jurkovic 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 he lamented that atrocities and grave offences against the dignity of the human person are being perpetrated in the name of military and political demands.