2016-10-18 09:18:00

Holy See supports Nuclear Disarmament

(Vatican Radio) A statement by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, was delivered on Monday about Nuclear Disarmament.


The full statement is below


Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza

Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See

Seventy-first Session of the United Nations General Assembly

First (Disarmament) Committee Agenda Item 98 (c): Nuclear disarmament

New York, 17 October 2016

Mr. Chair,

The Holy See has called for a total ban on nuclear weapons since the dawn of the nuclear age.

In  February  1943,  two  years  and  a  half  before  the  Trinity  test,  Pope  Pius  XII  had  already

voiced  deep  concern  regarding  the  violent  use  of  atomic  energy.  After  Hiroshima  and

Nagasaki,  observing  the  totally  uncontrollable  and  indiscriminate  consequences  of  nuclear

weapons, Pope Pius XII demanded the effective proscription of atomic warfare, calling the

arms race a costly relationship of mutual terror.  My delegation would like to reiterate Pope

Francis’ conviction that “the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart

will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all,

to the benefit of our common home.”

The Holy See echoes the cry of humanity to be freed from the specter of nuclear warfare. It is

important  for  every  schoolchild  to  know  that  a  nuclear  war  would  have  horrendous

consequences for people and the whole planet. Thus the Holy  See actively participates in the

conferences  on  the  humanitarian  impact  of  nuclear  weapons,  and  regularly  supports  the

resolutions this Committee adopts and the steps individual States take that will contribute to

nuclear disarmament and to the general and complete  disarmament called for by Article VII

of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Nuclear  arms  offer  a  false  sense  of  security  and  the  uneasy  peace  promised  by  nuclear

deterrence is a tragic illusion. The indefinite possession of nuclear weapons is morally wrong,

“an  affront  to  the  entire  framework  of  the  United  Nations”and  contradicts  the  United

Nation’s  vocation  of  service  to  humanity  and  the  global  common  good.   The  so-called

“doctrine  of  nuclear  deterrence”  has  made  nuclear  non-proliferation  and  nuclear

disarmament more difficult, and raises the possibility of the actual intentional or accidental

deployment of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons cannot create a stable and secure world. Peace and international stability

cannot be established on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of total  annihilation.

Lasting  peace  cannot  be  guaranteed  by  the  maintenance  of  a  balance  of  terror.  On  the

contrary, “Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for

human rights, and the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between


The  NPT  enjoins  us  to  make  "good  faith"  efforts  to  negotiate  the  elimination  of  nuclear

weapons and put in place confidence-building measures. The modernization programs of the

nuclear  weapons  States,  however,  persist.  Boycotts,  threats  and  other  forms  of  dissuasion

against countries suspected of developing nuclear weapons will continue to lack credibility as

long as nuclear weapons States not only hold onto but upgrade their nuclear weapons. For

the  NPT  to  be  successful  and  general  and  complete  disarmament  to  be  achieved,  nuclear

weapons  States  must  divest  themselves  of  their  nuclear  arsenal,  under  strict  international

verification. This is part of the “grand bargain” that was and is the NPT.

Eight years ago, the Secretary-General launched a Five-Point Plan for Nuclear Disarmament,

the centerpiece of which is the negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons Convention or a framework

of instruments leading directly to a  global ban on nuclear weapons. This Committee should

therefore seriously pursue the recommendation made by the  Open-Ended Working Group,

with the majority support of the participating States, that the General Assembly convene a

conference in 2017 “to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons,

leading towards their total elimination.” It is incumbent upon this Committee to redouble its

efforts to advance the recommendations of the Open-Ended Working Group, especially at a

time when the disarmament machinery is at a standstill.


Mr. Chair,

The Holy See continues to urge for the rapid entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear

Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which has just marked the twentieth anniversary of its opening for

signature. It welcomes the adoption on September 23 of UN Security Resolution 2310, urging

the eight States whose ratification remains necessary for the entry into force of the CTBT to

sign and/or ratify it. There is no reason for procrastination.

The Holy See reaffirms its support of the NPT as vital to international peace and security and

laments our collective failure to move forward with a positive disarmament agenda. As Pope

Francis said in his Address to the General Assembly in September 2015,  “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.”

Finally,  the  Holy  See  believes  that  negotiations  on  nuclear  non-proliferation  and  nuclear

disarmament  must  be  accompanied  by  negotiations  on  the  balances  and  dispositions  of

conventional forces and their reductions, in the spirit of Article VII of the NPT.

The task we face is arduous and the challenges are multifaceted, but we must face them with

hope, resolve and confidence.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


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