H.E. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti
Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States
68th session of the
United Nations General Assembly
High-level Meeting on Nuclear
York, 26 September 2013
The General Assembly resolution
calling for today's High-Level meeting on Nuclear Disarmament expressed the common
conviction that the complete elimination of nuclear weapons is essential to
remove the danger of nuclear war, a goal that must have our highest priority.
The Holy See, which has long called for the banishment of these weapons of mass
destruction, joins in this concerted effort to give vigorous expression to the
cry of humanity to be freed from the specter of nuclear warfare.
Under the terms of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty, states are enjoined to make "good faith"
efforts to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons. Can we say there is
"good faith" when modernization programs of the nuclear weapons
states continue despite their affirmations of eventual nuclear disarmament?
Concern over the proliferation of nuclear weapons into other countries ring hollow
as long as the nuclear weapons states hold on to their nuclear weapons. If
today's special meeting is to have any historic significance, it must result in
a meaningful commitment by the nuclear weapons states to divest themselves of
their nuclear weapons.
Five years ago, the Secretary-General
offered a Five-Point Plan for Nuclear Disarmament. It is past time for this
plan to be given the serious attention it deserves. The centre-piece is the
negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons Convention or a framework of instruments
leading directly to a global ban on nuclear weapons. This is a clear-cut goal,
fully understandable and supportable by all those who truly want the world to
move beyond the dark doctrines of mutual assured destruction.
It is now imperative for us to
address in a systematic and coherent manner the legal, political and technical
requisites for a world free from nuclear arms. For this reason, we should begin
as soon as possible preparatory work on the Convention or a framework agreement
for a phased and verifiable elimination of nuclear arms.
The chief obstacle to starting this
work is continued adherence to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence. With the end
of the Cold War, the time for the acceptance of this doctrine is long passed.
The Holy See does not countenance the continuation of nuclear deterrence, since
it is evident it is driving the development of ever newer nuclear arms, thus
preventing genuine nuclear disarmament.
For many years, the world has been
told that a number of steps will lead eventually to nuclear disarmament. Such
argumentation is belied by the extraordinary nature of today's meeting, which
surely would not have been called if the steps were working. They are not. It
is the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence, politically supported by the
nuclear weapons states, that must be addressed in order to break the chain of
dependence on deterrence. Starting work on a global approach to providing
security without relying on nuclear deterrence is urgent.
cannot justify the continuation of a permanent nuclear deterrence policy, given
the loss of human, financial and material resources in time of scarcity of
funds for health, education and social services around the world and in the
face of current threats to human security, such as poverty, climate change,
terrorism and transnational crimes. Al1 this should make us consider the
ethical dimension and the moral legitimacy of the production, processing,
development, accumulation, use and threat of use of nuclear arms. We must
emphasize anew that military doctrines based on nuclear arms, as instruments of
security and defence of an élite group, in a show of power and supremacy,
retard and jeopardize the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
It is time to counter the logic of
fear with the ethic of responsibility, fostering a climate of trust and sincere
dialogue, capable of promoting a culture of peace, founded on the primacy of
law and the common good, through a coherent and responsible cooperation between
all members of the international community.
Thank you, Mr. President.