By Antonia Chan
The weapons industry is proverbially up in arms over Pope Francis’s recent declaration that weapons manufacturers—and their investors —are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian. At a rally in Turin, Italy, he noted that “people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian” and manufacture weapons lead to “a bit of distrust.”
The pope then expanded his criticism to investors in the weapons industry, claiming that “duplicity is the currency of today…they say one thing and do the other.” This condemnation stands out from Pope Francis’s previous criticism of weapons manufacturers, whom he called “merchants of death,” because of his subsequent discussion about the Holocaust and Armenian genocide. The impact of armed conflict on violations of human rights, particularly the right to health, is far-reaching and disproportionately impacts women, children, and vulnerable minorities.
The Right to Life in Peace, a paper recently published in HHR, is in line with the Pope’s statement through its human rights-based approach to discussing the essential relationship between “conditions that support peace” and “[realizing] the right to health.” Although much of the current debate over gun violence and regulation has centered on legal rights, state and non-state actors – such as weapons manufacturers, and their investors – still have an important obligation to take actions that protect public safety, health, and human rights.
More HHR Papers on Gun Violence in the Context of Health and Human Rights:
The Right to Life in Peace: An Essential Condition for Realizing the Right to Health
The Health and Human Rights of Survivors of Gun Violence: Charting a Research and Policy agenda