November 6, 2018
Effects of Atomic Radiation

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

Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Fourth Committee Agenda Item 52: Effects of atomic radiation

New York, 6 November 2018


Mr. Chair,

My Delegation would like to express its appreciation for the continuing good work of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

Earlier this year UNSCEAR concluded its 65th session, focusing on the radiological emergencies that resulted from the nuclear accidents in Chernobyl (Ukraine) and Fukushima (Japan). These accidents are reminders that the use of nuclear energy does not come without risks, at times very severe risks. It is therefore of utmost importance for the international community to take great precaution in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Moreover, the analyses that UNSCEAR carries out can be applied to the radiological impacts that would follow the use of nuclear weapons, especially uses against cities. We live with the memories of the deaths and injuries sustained from exposure to ionizing radiation after the nuclear weapon use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and pray that these will forever be the only such radiological casualties from the use of nuclear weapons.

UNSCEAR has continued its work on the impact of radiation on individuals and the environment from both naturally occurring and man-made sources. My Delegation eagerly awaits to learn from the Committee’s update on the Fukushima disaster following the report given in 2015. This information will be of great value in learning more about the longer- term effects of exposure to radiation.

My Delegation notes with appreciation UNSCEAR’s close cooperation with other entities of the United Nations System, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization, in providing the international community with new data for a deeper understanding of the effects of atomic radiation and their impact on the lives of those affected and on the environment. Such cooperation optimizes the use of persons and organizations and facilitates the dissemination as widely as possible of information and new scientific findings.

Mr. Chair,

When the international community first became aware of the consequences of splitting the atom, notably those elements that through fission release enormous amounts of energy, and the consequences of fusing atoms and releasing even greater amounts of energy, there was not a deep appreciation of how substantial a role the release of ionizing radiation would play in pursuing peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The 65 years of work by UNSCEAR has contributed to our present understanding of the effects of such releases. My Delegation wishes UNSCEAR every success as it continues its work for the good of all and of our common home.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.