Statement at the opening of Working Group II on Outer Space
at the United Nations Disarmament Commission
During the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 5 April 2023
Please allow me to congratulate you on your election as chair of this Working Group and assure you of the Holy See’s support.
While recognizing that States uniformly profess to oppose the militarization of this domain, it is alarming that some States have expended resources on the research, development and testing of orbital and space-based weapons. As Pope John Paul II observed during his first address to the General Assembly in 1979, “the continual preparations for war […] show that there is a desire to be ready for war,” which “means taking the risk” of moving towards destruction.
In the face of such a situation, the Holy See recalls that “true and lasting peace among nations cannot consist in the possession of an equal supply of armaments but only in mutual trust.”
This Working Group’s consideration of recommendations to promote the implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures (TCBMs) can help ensure mutual trust as a first step toward preventing an arms race in outer space through the eventual elaboration of a legally-binding treaty that preserves its peaceful nature. In this regard, my delegation urges this Working Group to consider TCBMs that not only limit the negative consequences of antisatellite missile tests, but that also allow for pre-launch inspection of payloads destined for orbit and promote transparency with regard to orbital objects. All of these measures will help ensure that the increasingly crowded skies above us do not produce more debris from inadvertent collisions. Given that spacefaring States span the globe, it is vital that any implementation of outer space TCBMs developed by this Commission receive support from other relevant international bodies, such as the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs or the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs. Such support could include, for example, a global repository of outer space TCBMs.
The Holy See reiterates its long-held view that national space policies should be guided by cooperation and not confrontation. Every State has a responsibility to safeguard the peaceful nature of outer space as a steward for present and future generations. Elaborating further on the value of TCBMs can help us move towards this end.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
 Pope John Paul II, Address to the 34th General Assembly of the United Nations, 2 October 1979, 10.
 Pope John XXIII, encyclical letter Pacem in Terris, 11 April 1963, 113.