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Vatican envoy calls for restraints on military weapons deemed to harmful to civilians

November 15, 2012

At a UN conference discussing restrictions on conventional weapons, the Vatican’s representative argued for new attention to explosive weapons that cause heavy civilian casualties.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, speaking at the UN meeting in Geneva, observed that since ancient times world leaders have agreed that even in war, “not all is acceptable.” There has been general acceptance, he said, of the moral principle that civilians should be spared from military action.

However, the development of bombs and other explosive weapons has led to widespread violation of that principle, the archbishop said. In the wars of recent decades, he said, “the overwhelming majority of the dead, injured, disabled are civilians and damages primarily affect the civilian infrastructure and the basic resources of subsistence of entire populations.”

Archbishop Tomasi argued that in assessing weapons and military tactics, national leaders should recognize that explosive weapons should not be used in heavily populated areas, and that some weapons might be unfit for use because they cause unacceptable harm to civilians.


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