Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini has advocated the creation of a "democratic and planetary" system of government that would transcend the powers of presently existing nation-states.
    Martini's proposal came in an essay on human rights in a recent issue of the newspaper La Repubblica. He wrote that nations have the right to manage their own affairs, but in view of the universal nature of human rights, an absolute notion of sovereignty that prevents the international community from policing abuses is "anachronistic and unhistorical."
    The 73 year old Archbishop of Milan is frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II.
    The cardinal supported "humanitarian intervention" in defence of suffering populations such as refugees, including the use of troops when other means have failed. Though "humanitarian intervention" was most recently invoked by NATO in defence of its bombing campaign against Serbia, Martini did not expressly approve or condemn that action. Instead, quoting from Pope John Paul II, Martini said such interventions must be precise in their objectives, must be authorised at a supra-national level, and must never depend on "the mere logic of force."
    Martini wrote that effective protection of human rights "obviously demands a true reconsideration of the present international order." In his most controversial statement, he said that international tribunals of human rights should have enforcement powers within nation-states.
12 Aug 00

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