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← The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse

TreenonPoet's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by TreenonPoet

Here is an extract from the BBC Radio 4 programme "Sunday" this morning...

Kevin Boquet: Coinciding with the Pope's visit, a new book by human-rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC was published this week. It's called "The Case of the Pope" and, according to its publishers, it's a devastating indictment of the way the Vatican has been able to run a secret legal system all of its own. Mr Robertson told me more.

Geoffrey Robertson: What it offers is the first kind of independent analysis, by way of a kind of legalistic enquiry if you like, into the legal position of the Vatican, proclaimed as a state although no other religion is a state, given this discriminatory position at the United Nations to promote its own dogmas on one level and yet, on the other, setting up a system of Canon Law which, in this respect, conflicts.

Edward Stourton: Geoffrey Robertson [was speaking there]. Well, Sir Ivor Roberts is a former ambassador to Italy, a Catholic, and currently president of Trinity College, Oxford, and I asked him for his reaction to Geoffrey Robertson's claim that the Vatican isn't quite a real state.

Ivor Roberts: It's a very unusual concept, but it is recognised, and has been recognised for a very long time, as a subject of public international law anyway, with rights and duties analogous to [those] of a state. I mean, it's recognised by the UN as an observer state and a full member of a large number of UN specialised agencies. I mean it has diplomatic relations with nearly 180 states. So, if it's treated as a state by the vast majority of the countries of the United Nations, then it is a state in international law.

Edward Stourton: So, as far as you're concerned, his analysis is fundamentally flawed?

Ivor Roberts: Yes. I mean he may not like the fact that they're treated as a state, but they are.

That was it - about a minute spent in this brief mention of the important book (when the programme found enough time for an interview of about 5 minutes with James MacMillan about the composition of music for the papal visit). There was no indication of how Geoffrey Robertson might have replied to Ivor Roberts' reaction.

Not having read the book, and not being a lawyer, I naively thought that the definition of 'state' for a given law would be the definition that applied to that law (as understood by those who made that law at the time they made it or last amended it) unless there was a formal agreement to redefine the word as an alternative to amending specified laws that use the word. Roberts seems to suggest that the definition of 'state' is whatever the majority currently surmise!

By the way, the BBC programme included unjustified, yet unchallenged, references to "aggressive atheist", "militant atheist", and "militant secularist". It is not the only BBC programme to have done so.

Sun, 12 Sep 2010 18:14:51 UTC | #516694