June 28, 2017
Security Council: Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
United Nations

Security Council Open Debate on
Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

New York, 28 June 2017

Mr. President,
The Holy See is grateful that the Presidency of the Plurinational State of Bolivia has brought the important subject of stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) to the deliberation of this Council and to the attention of the international community.
The prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of their means of delivery constitutes a common challenge facing the international community and is key to global governance.
It has been nearly six months since the Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 2325 (2016) on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. However, my Delegation believes that the situation has not substantially changed because, as Pope Francis has stated, “We say, ‘Never again,’ but at the same time we produce weapons and sell them to those who are at war with one another.”[1]  The Pope reminds us, “It is an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade.” He invites national leaders “firmly [to] commit themselves to ending the arms trade which victimizes so many innocent people,”[2] and reiterates his strong support for the rapid adoption of steps that would lead to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and to the reduction of the world’s reliance on armed force in the conduct of international affairs.

The principal legally binding instrument currently available to us to combat that threat is Resolution 1540 (2004), adopted unanimously more than a decade ago. The Resolution’s preventive role and the 1540 Committee’s efforts in the five areas of its work – implementation, assistance, cooperation, transparency and dissemination – are fundamental in guiding the actions of all States to pool efforts to combat proliferation.
In this regard, my Delegation would like to reiterate that it is essential to improve assistance to States and cooperation among them if we are to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It is necessary to increase the coordination of national, regional and international efforts, as appropriate, to strengthen our response to this serious challenge. All States ought to take appropriate measures in accord with national and international law, and to fulfill scrupulously their obligations under international law and the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. The establishment of weapons of mass destruction free zones would also be a big step in the right direction, as it would demonstrate that we can indeed move toward a universal agreement to eliminate all of these weapons.
Mr. President,
The proliferation of weapons, both conventional and of mass destruction, aggravates situations of conflict and results in huge human and material costs that profoundly undermine development and the search for lasting peace. Indeed, non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament underpin global security and sustainable development. Without them, the achievement of the much-vaunted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be seriously jeopardized, peace will continue to be dangerously in grave deficit, and human sufferings will sadly remain unabated.
It is imperative that all State actors overcome differences and find political solutions that can prevent and halt the involvement of non-State actors in wars and conflicts. Without this, the human cost of wars and conflicts will continue to grow and the proliferation of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, along with their delivery systems  and the risk of their use by States or terrorist groups will remain very clear and present dangers.
Thank you, Mr. President.
1. Pope Francis in an interview given to “Tertio”, a Catholic weekly newspaper in Belgium, December 2016.
2. Pope Francis, June 2017 Prayer Video Message.