Dutch bishops: "may the UNO be reinforced"” “

“The contribution of the ecclesial community to the promotion of the rule of law and peace in our world is the object of this letter. In the declaration we consider it should be accorded first place in our Church, in our parishes and in our diocesan, national and international associations. But in the campaign aimed at fostering law and peace we work together with the other Christian Churches and with all men of good will, just like John XXIII, who addressed himself to them forty years ago in his encyclical ‘Pacem in Terris'”. So begins the pastoral letter of the Dutch bishops, “A Church faced by the challenge of law and peace”, published in recent days. It stresses the value of the task of the United Nations and at the same time asks for a reinforcement of the UNO’s institutional role. The UNO, in as much as it acts as a spur to “supranational authority”, must be endowed with the necessary authority and power and legal and physical means of coercion”, say the Dutch bishops, who also lament the fact that the UNO has been “overridden and sidelined in its role of supranational authority for the prevention and settlement of conflicts”. In this regard, the case of the war in Iraq is cited as an “example of development in the wrong direction”. That’s why “international law, the UNO and the Security Council, as the “legitimate representative of law at the international level, with decision-making power on military intervention”, needs to be reinforced. An appeal is therefore made to the Dutch government to support “an unequivocal stance” in favour of a strong UNO, capable of opposing an aggressive and unilateral security policy”. Also in the fields of the campaign against terrorism and of humanitarian aid, the role of the UNO ought – say the Dutch bishops – to be reinforced. The policy of the American government of conducting a preventive war to put an end to terrorism, maintain the bishops, “marks a dangerous development because it leaves unresolved the question of the danger of the arbitrary nature of such action. This does not mean that the international community should permit dictatorial regimes to entrench themselves behind the wall of national sovereignty. In the case of serious abuses of human rights or suspected genocide, on the contrary, it is our duty to defend the fundamental right to life and the threat posed to the international community by a criminal regime”.

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