(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
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.
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.