VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Declaring human rights ``have no borders,'' Pope John Paul II on Monday gave strong backing to international efforts to punish crimes against humanity.

``Crimes against humanity cannot be considered an internal affair of a nation,'' John Paul said in his annual message for the church's World Day of Peace on Jan. 1.

The pope said the world has been ``sorely tried'' in the 20th century by war and genocide and that humanity must abandon the idea that the claims of a nation take precedence over the common good.

He endorsed establishment of an International Criminal Court to try such crimes as ``an important first step'' in accepting the concept that human rights are ``universal and indivisible.''

A U.N. treaty on the court was brokered in Rome last year over the opposition of major powers such as the United States, China and Russia. It is now going through a lengthy ratification process.

The pope's message, which is sent to heads of state worldwide, reaffirmed church teaching that it is legitimate to take up arms against aggression to protect civilians but said such actions should be ``guaranteed by an authority that is internationally recognized.''