2015-10-23 11:26:00

Holy See: United Nations must work for nuclear disarmament

(Vatican Radio) The Holy See on Thursday said it was “incumbent”  upon  the  United  Nations  “to  redouble  its  efforts” to implement provisions of treaties which aim to reduce  further  the  role  of  nuclear  weapons in international security.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, was speaking during a General Assembly meeting on Disarmament.

“Non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament are vital elements of advancing global security and  stability,” said Archbishop Auza. “Without them, the achievement of the just  adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is jeopardized.”


The full statement is below


Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza

Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

First (Disarmament) Committee of the 70th

Session of the General Assembly

Agenda Item 97 (b): Nuclear disarmament

New York, 22 October 2015

Mr. Chair,

My delegation extends congratulations to you as you lead the First Committee, the work of which is critical to the mandate of the United Nations to bring about a more peaceful and stable world.

At the outset of its seventieth  session, Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly and spoke directly of the challenges we deal with in this Committee. He noted that “the constant tendency to the proliferation of arms, especially weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons,” is contrary to the foundations of the fundamental juridical framework set out in the  Preamble and the  first Article of the Charter of  the United Nations,  and in practice denies them. 

The  Pope affirmed that “an ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual  destruction  -  and possibly the  destruction of all mankind -  are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the  United Nations, which would end as 'nations united by fear and distrust.'  There is an urgent need  to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-proliferation Treaty, in  letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.”

Recalling the words of Pope Francis and noting the failure of the Ninth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons  (NPT)  to agree on a final document,  the Holy See wishes to underline once more that nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction  are  irreconcilable with, and contrary to, an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and among States.

We are painfully aware that the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is languishing, despite  the  important  efforts highlighted at the IX Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, held just two weeks ago, pursuant to Article XIV of the Treaty. This step towards a world free of nuclear weapons is long overdue.

Similarly, the beginning of negotiations to establish a binding cessation of the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons has languished in the Conference on Disarmament. This failure has prevented the establishment of a subsidiary body that, even though it would not have a mandate to negotiate further steps or building blocks in that body, could nevertheless consider many aspects of nuclear disarmament that require such deliberation.

Moreover, it still remains to be seen whether the General Assembly will decide to establish an open-ended  working  group  with  a  similar  mandate.   Both  options  were  provided for in the unadopted final document of the Ninth NPT Review Conference, and neither was known to have presented an obstacle to agreement.

It is incumbent upon the United Nations to redouble its efforts to advance these processes, underway for decades but currently moribund, that aim to reduce further the role of nuclear weapons in international security.

On the other side of the ledger, the Holy See recognizes and welcomes the ongoing successful implementation of the New START agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States, under which the numbers of nuclear weapons continue to be reduced. It has also taken positive note of the Joint  Comprehensive  Program  of  Action  between  Iran, the permanent members of the Security Council, Germany and Iran the European Union.  For the first time in many years, there are reasons to hope that the concerns and tensions arising from the nuclear energy program in Iran may be laid to rest as the Program of Action is implemented.

With these ongoing positiv  developments,it should be possible to generate momentum  for negotiations to reduce further the nuclear weapons stockpiles of states, whether bilaterally or through a broader process, and to halt the further buildup of nuclear arsenals in those possessing states  not  parties  to the  NPT,  thus  enabling  the  setting  of  ceilings  on  the  numbers  of  nuclear weapons globally.

The NPT is a vital component of the international structure of arms control agreements, but it has not  managed  to  become  universal.  This  Committee  is  an  appropriate  venue  to  press  for constraints on non-Party States leading to reductions of nuclear arsenals.

Similarly,  this  Committee  has  a  strong  interest in reestablishing and bringing forward with greater determination the long overdue process towards a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The tensions and conflicts in the Middle East warrant our urgent efforts to support cooperation in the region, as well as in other regions of the world.

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit should  further  work  to constrain not only nuclear weapon materials, but radiological materials more broadly, lest they become subject to theft and use as “dirty bombs”.

Non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament are vital elements of advancing global security and  stability. Without them, the achievement of the just  adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is jeopardized. The Holy See joins with all persons of good will in seeking a future in which the threat of nuclear disasters  will have been  eliminated and the use of force to resolve conflicts between states  will be  increasingly reduced, pursuant to verifiable agreements. The ideal of global governance based on trust can surely one day be reached, with the principle of  pacta sunt servanda as key.

Mr. Chair,

As  Pope  Francis  wrote  on  the  occasion  of  the  III  Conference  on  the  Humanitarian  Impact  of  Nuclear  Weapons,  “a  global  ethic  is  needed  if  we  are  to  reduce  the  nuclear  threat  and  work  towards nuclear disarmament.” To promote this “global ethic,” we must  encourage States and  civil  society  to  pursue  initiatives  aimed  at  a  deeper  understanding  of  the  grave  humanitarian  effects of the use of nuclear weapons. Such initiatives are not only to be encouraged; they should  be  deemed  necessary  if  we  are  to  build  public  awareness  on  the  moral  imperative  to  abolish  nuclear weapons.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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