Statement by H.E. Archbishop
Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
Final Arms Trade Treaty Conference
Nations Headquarters, New York
the occasion of the adoption of this treaty, my delegation wishes to reaffirm its
commitment to the overarching principles that have guided its positions at this
arms trade cannot be regarded as a legitimate economic pursuit like any other. No
transfer of arms is ever to be considered morally indifferent. Such transfers
require rigorous evaluation on the basis of ethical criteria founded in human
dignity and the promoting of the common good.
in all instances of the transfer of arms must be the duty to avoid or reduce to a minimum all human suffering and
loss of life. The connection between violence and arms is more than merely
incidental. The suffering of victims requires that all assistance be made
available to them.
arms transfers remain a grave threat to peace and development, particularly in
poorer regions of the world. Justice and peace are the essential preconditions
for genuine human development and constitute the most effective means to
promote international peace and security. Accordingly, the link between
disarmament and development requires that the maximum human and material
resources be directed into development.
the extent to which some of these principles find reflection in this treaty, we
view its adoption as constituting a step towards establishing in the world a
culture of responsibility and accountability.
it is hoped that in it its implementation the treaty will serve to reorient the
international community in accordance with the principles just mentioned, there
remain in the text of the treaty considerable gaps, particularly with regard to
an emphasis more on States’ prerogatives than on the dignity and human rights of
people, the predominance of commercial or economic considerations, and an inadequate
elaboration of the principle of sufficiency, of victims’ assistance and of the
need to reduce demand for arms. Unless States establish the political, social and moral conditions that reduce the demand for
arms, arms control will be of limited effect and the
goal of the disarming of the illicit trade in arms will remain elusive.
delegation also wishes to place on record its positions with regard to certain
provisions in this treaty:
Article 1, my delegation understands the purpose of “reducing human suffering”
to include, fundamentally, the protection of human life.
inclusion of a single type of violence alone in the text of this treaty, namely
“gender-based violence”, in our estimation, constitutes a peculiar and discriminatory
disservice to the innumerable victims of atrocities who are targeted on account
of their ethnicity or race, as well as their political, religious or other
beliefs or opinion. Any realistic assessment in terms of Article 7.4 would require,
in its implementation, that all forms of violence be given consideration,
regardless of their basis.
Holy See understands the term “gender” in accordance with its Interpretative Statement
to the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, made in Beijing at the
Fourth World Conference on Women.
ask that this statement be included in the report of this meeting.
you, Mr. President.