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Catholic World News News Feature

International law is theme for 2004 World Day of Peace July 17, 2003

The Vatican has announced that the theme for next year's World Day of Peace will be: "International law: a way to peace."

The selection of that theme underlines the concern felt by the Holy See about threats to the legitimacy and application of international law. Vatican officials raised those fears frequently in their statements earlier this year, objecting to US plans for military action against Iraq.

In a July 17 announcement, the Vatican indicated that the theme was selected because proper respect for international law will "promote peace among nations." The Vatican statement explicitly remarked that the war in Iraq had highlighted the fragility of the rule of international law.

The Vatican statement went on to observe that if the world's leaders are not prepared to create an international body that can maintain peace, the threat of war will be constant, and "a risk exists that the rule of force will prevail over the rule of law."

The World Day of Peace is observed on January 1, with a papal message for the day released months in advance. The Vatican's selection of this theme indicated that Pope John Paul will plan to release a message in which he returns to earlier suggestions that a worldwide authority should be established to maintain peace among nations.

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