ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome  

War on Terrorism Has to Observe Limits, Says Pope
Insists That Humanitarian Law Is Still in Force

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- International humanitarian law must be respected both in situations of war as well as in the fight against terrorism, insists Benedict XVI.

In the face of "new forms" of terrorist violence in an age of globalization, the Pope proposed a reflection of a juridical, ethical and cultural nature to see how international law can be implemented, guaranteeing national security.

In his message for World Day of Peace, which will be observed Jan. 1, the Holy Father recalls that states have committed themselves to respect international humanitarian law, but says that "unfortunately," this law "has not been consistently implemented in certain recent situations of war."

Benedict XVI mentions in particular the conflict a few months ago in southern Lebanon, "where the duty 'to protect and help innocent victims' and to avoid involving the civilian population, was largely ignored."

"The heart-rending situation in Lebanon and the new shape of conflicts, especially since the terrorist threat unleashed completely new forms of violence," stresses the papal message, "demand that the international community reaffirm international humanitarian law, and apply it to all present-day situations of armed conflict, including those not currently provided for by international law."

According to the Bishop of Rome, "the scourge of terrorism demands a profound reflection on the ethical limits restricting the use of modern methods of guaranteeing internal security."

"Increasingly, wars are not declared, especially when they are initiated by terrorist groups determined to attain their ends by any means available," he writes. "In the face of the disturbing events of recent years, States cannot fail to recognize the need to establish clearer rules to counter effectively the dramatic decline that we are witnessing.

"War always represents a failure for the international community and a grave loss for humanity."

Benedict XVI continues: "When, despite every effort, war does break out, at least the essential principles of humanity and the basic values of all civil coexistence must be safeguarded; norms of conduct must be established that limit the damage as far as possible and help to alleviate the suffering of civilians and of all the victims of conflicts."