Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
at the High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote
The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
New York, 26 September 2017
“The future of humanity lies in the hands of those who are strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping.”
The Holy See signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons during the 20 September signing ceremony, because it gives hope to those now living and those still to be born that one day our world will be free from nuclear weapons, which, for more than seventy years, have dimmed humanity’s aspirations for peace. The Treaty meets the challenge Pope Francis set for the international community at the opening of negotiations last March, “to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security.”
States signing the Treaty have rejected the fallacy that “might makes right” and its pernicious modern corollary that some nations have the right to nuclear weapons while others do not. On the contrary, in adhering to the Treaty they affirm that the achievement and maintenance of international peace and security consist in what supports the common good of all humanity.
The Treaty is a significant contribution to the overall effort toward complete nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. It is therefore a positive contribution toward the fulfillment of the commitment of the States Party to the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”
Pope Francis addressed the matter of the NPT in his tweet of this morning: “Let us commit ourselves to a world without nuclear weapons by implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty to abolish these weapons of death.”
Moreover, Article VI of the NPT commits the signatories “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures” not only toward nuclear disarmament, but also “on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” General and complete disarmament must accompany nuclear disarmament, for no nuclear-weapons-possessing State will be persuaded to eliminate its nuclear arsenal, and other weapons of mass destruction, without the assurance that it will not then be left facing an imbalance of conventional forces. Nor without broader and deeper steps toward general disarmament will other States that depend on the nuclear weapons of their allies for their own security under the rubric of “extended deterrence” be confident that the elimination of nuclear weapons does not weaken their national defense. My Delegation thus believes that nuclear disarmament can be more effectively pursued if it is accompanied with equally determined efforts toward general and complete disarmament.
Moreover, we must not ignore the halting pace of progress under other Treaties, like the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It is difficult to envision and establish additional building blocks in the edifice of nuclear arms control when laboriously negotiated existing agreements languish in the drawer and are not given the utmost consideration they deserve. The Holy See hereby reiterates its encouragement for those States whose ratifications are required for entry into force of all Treaties to advance efforts toward nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.
Finally, the Preamble of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons states, “The establishment and maintenance of world peace and security are to be promoted with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources.” This is in harmony with the General Assembly’s Resolution 71/62, which was adopted by consensus, on the relationship between disarmament and development, as well as a consolidation of Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
In this regard, the Holy See urges Governments to consider reallocating a sizable portion of the resources they could save in disarmament to the development of their own citizens and of peoples throughout the world.
Thank you, Mr. President.
1. Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church Gaudium et spes (Church and the Modern World), no. 31.
2. Treaty, Preamble, Paragraph 12.