Statement of the Holy See
at the General Exchange of Views
at the United Nations Disarmament Commission
during the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 4 April 2023
First, allow me to congratulate you on your election as Chair of this commission and assure you of my delegation’s support.
In one week’s time, we will mark the 60th anniversary of the promulgation of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris, written in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis emphasized the letter’s continued relevance in a world that sadly feels fear and anguish due to the renewed prominence of the nuclear threat in the context of the war in Ukraine. Pope Francis went on further to reaffirm the immorality of possessing nuclear weapons, given that their employment, even by accident, could lead to “appalling slaughter and destruction.” Such a risk, as well as the growing consciousness of the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons, necessitates a reconception of security that moves away from a balance of arms toward integral disarmament. In this regard, the Holy See calls on all States to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
Tragically, the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis are being forgotten and numerous arms control treaties have been discarded, reflecting a paucity of trust internationally and accelerating a worrying trend toward rearmament.
This growing mistrust even reaches beyond Earth’s atmosphere into the celestial domain. In this regard, the Holy See welcomes the General Assembly’s recent adoption of resolution 77/41, which “calls upon States to commit not to conduct destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile tests.” Indeed, my delegation hopes that this commission can foster dialogue to build consensus on this issue, while also promoting transparency and confidence-building measures (TCBMs) in outer space. Such measures would not preclude, but rather lay the groundwork for an eventual legally binding agreement prohibiting the weaponization of outer space and weapons that threaten space objects. An agreement along these lines would prevent an arms race in outer space and ensure that all outer space activity fosters cooperation, rather than mistrust, and serves the common good.
Let us not forget that “existing disarmament treaties are more than just legal obligations. They are also moral commitments based on trust among States and among their representatives, rooted in the trust that citizens place in their governments, with ethical consequences for current and future generations of humanity.”Therefore, adherence to, and respect for, international disarmament agreements and international law is not a form of weakness but rather, it is a source of strength and responsibility since it increases trust and stability.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
 Cf. Pope Francis, Address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 9 January 2023.
 Pope Francis, Message to His Excellency Ambassador Alexander Kmentt, President of the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, 21 June 2022.
 Cf. Idem.