Vatican says international humanitarian law 'increasingly ignored'

(Photo: Photo: © Peter Kenny / Ecumenical News)The Holy See's representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Siavano Tomasi, speaking at a side-event on Syria during the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on Sept. 17, 2015.

GGENEVA - The Vatican has told an international gathering of Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations that the "respect and promotion" of international humanitarian law is "increasingly ignored and violated."

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, was speaking at the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The conference is held every four years and among its aims is to bolster international humanitarian law now that is under threat in conflict zones such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

"Focusing on current and protracted conflicts, the international community should remain vigilant and tireless in calling attention to the needs of people who find themselves in the midst of humanitarian emergencies," said Tomasi.

"The short attention span of the communications media, and of many others in the international community, should be challenged by regularly calling attention to the ongoing emergencies that seem to be multiplying in intensity and complexity."

The Vatican envoy proposed a comprehensive definition for "neighbor", since all persons are equal members of the one human family and should be in mutual solidarity.


"All of us are created with equal dignity and therefore are entitled to equal access to the goods of this world," he said. "Moreover, all persons should have an equal say in the formulation of policies and decisions that will affect their own lives and that of future generations."

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said, "We have entered an era in which armed conflicts are greater in complexity and numbers of actors, longer in duration, wider in their regional impact, broader in tactics and weapons used and, above all, more atrocious in the human suffering they cause.

"It is an era of protracted armed conflicts, which add up to a world at war."

Maurer noted that "indiscriminate violence in the form of terrorist attacks around the world" in placed such as Yola, Bamako, Paris and Beirut have "created a widespread feeling of insecurity."

It has "led to increasingly robust State responses. It is important to note in this context that all intentional attacks against non-combatants and all attacks aimed at spreading terror are prohibited in International Humanitarian Law."

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