Cardinal Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, expressed this conviction last weekend when addressing a Congress of Catholic Jurists, being held here on the theme "Peace and International Law."
Referring to the main points in John Paul II's message for the 2004 World Day of Peace, Cardinal Martino emphasized the irreplaceable function of international law in the defense of peace itself.
The cardinal said that the growth of such law requires that states be willing to cede ever-larger shares of their sovereignty to achieve security and the universal common good.
It is the task of international law to avoid the dominance of the law of the strongest or the wealthiest, and to substitute the law of force with the force of law, said the cardinal who for 16 years was the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations.
He cautioned that the violation of international law could have lasting negative repercussions.
Cardinal Martino contended that the prohibition of the use of force, except for cases authorized by the U.N. Security Council and established in the U.N. Charter, is an obligatory rule of the international order. He echoed a contention of the Pope, that war is always a defeat of humanity.
According to John Paul II's definition, the United Nations "is the most important instrument of synthesis and coordination of international life," Cardinal Martino said. For the United Nations to carry out its function, states must give up unilateral actions that undermine its strength and contravene the principles of its Charter, he continued.
Referring again to the papal message of peace, the president of the Council for Justice and Peace said that, to be effective, the just and imperative struggle against terrorism cannot be limited solely to repression, but must eliminate the causes and elaborate appropriate juridical instruments of prevention and control.
"In any case," the cardinal added, "democratic governments know very well that the use of force against terrorists cannot justify the giving up of the principles of the state of law and in no case imply the violation of the fundamental rights of the human person."