2014-10-15 10:22:00

Nuclear arms and advancement of women under discussion at UN

(Vatican Radio) The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Bernardito Auza gave two addresses on Tuesday concerning nuclear arms and the advancement of Women.

Please see below the Archbishop’s speech at the General Debate of the UNGA First Committee, on nuclear arms.


Mr. Chairman,


As this is the first time that I address this Committee, allow me to assure you and the bureau

of  my  delegation’s  full  cooperation  in  the  pursuit  of  the  Committee’s  vitally  important

efforts for world peace.


I have the honor to convey to you and to all the delegations the greetings of His Holiness

Pope Francis, who has made clear his strong support  for the  rapid adoption of steps that

would lead to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and to the reduction of the

world’s reliance on armed force in the conduct of international affairs.    He pleads for the

non-proliferation of arms and for the disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear

and chemical weapons disarmament.


The past year has seen progress on the elimination of chemical weapons; yet reports of the

continued  use  of  chemical  weapons,  including  chlorine  gas,  reminds  the  international

community  to redouble its efforts to eliminate  once and for all chemical weapons and any

use as a weapon of dual-use chemicals.


With  regard  to  nuclear  weapons,  the  third  conference  on  the  humanitarian  impact  of

nuclear weapons,  which will be held  in  December in Vienna, Austria,  is a sobering  reminder

of the deep frustration of the international community at the lack of speedy progress  on

nuclear  disarmament,  and  of  the  inhuman  and  immoral  consequences  of  the  use  of

weapons  of  mass  destruction.  The  inability  of  the  nuclear-weapon  states  to  begin

negotiations  toward  further  reductions  in  their  existing  stockpiles  is  troubling,  but  the

“modernization” of some existing systems and the increase of weapons stockpiles are even

more troubling.


Mr. Chairman,


The ninth  NPT  Review Conference  will  take place  very soon  in  New York. Nearly all the

States represented in this room are parties  to  the NPT.  One would think  that a  Treaty so

important to our mutual security would be implemented  more rapidly and effectively, and

that  by now  decisions taken at previous review conferences  would already be advanced  in

their implementation. Regrettably, this has not been and is not the case. 


The NPT’s central promise of  nuclear weapons  States  to gradually disarm in exchange for

non-nuclear-weapon States to refrain from acquiring nuclear arms remains at an impasse.


The  Holy See  continues to believe  that  a policy of permanent nuclear deterrence jeopardizes

the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. My delegation, therefore, urges

this Committee and  the  preparation for the  ninth  NPT  Review Conference to  focus on the

need  to  move  beyond  nuclear  deterrence,  and  work  toward  the  establishment  of  lasting

peace founded on mutual  trust,  rather than a  state of mere non-belligerence  founded on  the

logic of mutual destruction.


In this regard, the Holy See urges all states to sign and/or ratify the CTBT without further

delay,  because  it  is  a  core  element  of  the  international  nuclear  disarmament  and  nonproliferation regime.


Moreover, my delegation believes that the establishment of  weapons  of  mass destruction

free zones would be a big step in the right direction, as it would demonstrate we can indeed

move toward a universal agreement to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Chairman,


In keeping our focus on nuclear weapons and the strengthening of the NPT, we should not

neglect our larger objective of a world less reliant on the use of force. Article VI of the NPT

clearly  states  that  “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in

good faith on effective measures related to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early

date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament

under strict and effective international control.”


The  Holy  See  welcomes  the  progress,  however  modest,  in  the  areas  of  conventional

weapons, like  those related to the implementation of the Ottawa Convention and   of  the

Cluster  Munitions  Convention.  But  it  remains  deeply  concerned  that  the  flow  of

conventional arms continues to exacerbate conflicts around the globe. And let us not forget

that  financial  greed  fuels  arms  sales,  and  arms  sales  fuel  conflicts  that  cause  untold

sufferings and violations of human rights. For as long as so great a quantity of arms are in

circulation as  at present, new pretexts can always be found for initiating hostilities, and

easy access to arms facilitates the perpetration of violence against innocent populations.

It is my delegation’s sincerest hope that this year’s session will respond to this  challenge,

and recognize the grave  consequences  of the proliferation and use of conventional weapons

on human life throughout the world.


While aware that the work of this Committee is extremely challenging and agreements are

hard to come by, we must never despair. May the proverbial image of the constant drops of

water  ever patiently  melting the hardest rock  inspire  us  all  to go forward  in the midst of

slow progress and in spite of stalemates and setbacks.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  


Please see below an address by Archbishop Bernardito Auza Permanent Observer of the Holy See  to the United Nations 69 th Session of the General Assembly Third Committee on the Advancement of women.


Madam Chair,


The  advancement  of  women  throughout  the  world  has  been  the  central  focus  of

common and continued efforts and initiatives over many years now.

These  endeavors  have  borne  fruits:  the  situation  of  women  in  general  has  largely

improved, especially of those who were in critical situations created by poverty and

discrimination of all sorts. The reduction of maternal and infant mortality shows that

mobilizing adequate resources saves many lives. Such remarkable improvements call

for further efforts in order to more effectively tackle distressing situations that many

women still face today due to lack of education and healthcare, in particular where

such formation and care could prevent devastating consequences,  as  in the cases of

female genital mutilation and obstetric fistula.

There are still women who endure violence and discrimination, and have no access to

the  administration  of  justice  and  basic  services :  women  migrant  workers,

undocumented women, women unjustly imprisoned, women seeking asylum, women

refugees, women  who find themselves in dramatic situations and are  exposed to all

sorts of abuses, and many others whose human rights continue to be denied.

My delegation is particularly alarmed over the impact of violence, including sexual

violence,  on  women  caught  in  conflicts  and  wars  in  many  countries  and  regions

around the world, more recently in the Middle East. The Holy See urges all States and

the entire international community to take every possible and necessary step in order

to make humanitarian aid accessible to all victims of violence and, in particular, to

protect women and children from abuses and human trafficking.

Madam Chair,

Reports show that, in many parts of the world, women and children form the majority

of the poor and are affected by the burden of poverty in very specific ways. In many

developing  countries,  for  example,  women  are  the  most  affected  by  the  lack  of

infrastructure for water and energy supply. In urban areas, women are the ones who

suffer the most from violence.  Poverty often creates or compounds an unacceptable

gap between men and women, boys and girls in terms of access to basic services and

education. In highly commending those countries where significant progress has been

achieved  in  these  areas,  the  Holy  See  believes  that  much  is  still  to  be  done  to

effectively address the inequalities between men and women, girls and boys.

But beyond inequalities, an even greater and more urgent attention should be focused

on the fight against want, hunger and thirst, against lack of access to clean water and

basic  healthcare  services,  to  education  and  employment  opportunities.  Rescuing

women and girls from poverty is the key to their advancement and the best guarantee

to achieve equality for them.


Madam Chair,

My  delegation  believes  that  the  advancement  of  women  should  not  be  measured

merely  by  the  criterion  of  equality  with  men.  For  instance,  the  fight  in  favor  of

advancement of women should also be a fight for better conditions for mothers. It is

in this sense that efforts  to promote the advancement of women should not be at the

expense of other human rights.


Moreover, my delegation wishes to highlight the important role that women play in

poverty alleviation. Women migrant and domestic workers, women living in rural

areas  or  in  slums  have  been  playing  a  critical  role  in  the  success  of  small-scale

economic  activities  and  microfinance.  Assuring  women  equal  access  to  resources,

capital  and  technology  is  a  most  concrete  way  of  recognizing  their  enormous

contribution to society and assuring their advancement.


Finally, every effort should be exerted to better recognize women as protagonists in

every  aspect  of  life.  Invaluable  contributions  of  women  across  centuries  must  be

recognized: intellectuals and artists, wives and mothers, workers and entrepreneurs,

educators and caregivers, civic and political leaders, thinkers and spiritual leaders. We

have women who have been and are impressive examples of daily heroism, and who

stand up to exercise their  human  rights and live in a dignified way, in the midst and

in spite of exclusion and violence, of mistreatment and discrimination.


Madam Chair,


My delegation remains very supportive of the efforts and initiatives that can protect

the inherent dignity of women, improve their conditions of living and promote the

recognition and full development of their talents and skills.


Thank you, Madam Chair.




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