Statement during the General Assembly High-level Plenary Meeting
to Commemorate and Promote the
International Day Against Nuclear Tests (IDANT)
29 August 2023
Pope Francis encourages us to learn from those affected by nuclear tests. They are “prophetic voices,” which call “the human family to a deeper appreciation of beauty, love, cooperation and fraternity, while reminding the world of the risks of nuclear weapons which have the potential to destroy us and civilization.”
Seventy-eight years ago, the first nuclear-explosive test occurred at the Trinity site, in New Mexico. This event initiated an arms race that featured the testing of nuclear devices throughout the 20th century. These tests have caused grave harms, including displacement, multigenerational health problems, poisoned food and water and the disruption of people’s spiritual connections with the earth, our common home. These effects have disproportionately affected indigenous peoples, women and children, who have received scant assistance, most of which has benefited soldiers. States that rely on nuclear deterrence have moral and legal obligations to restore the lives, communities and ecosystems harmed by such testing. Unfortunately, the prospects for a resumption of nuclear-explosive testing remain real. This would exacerbate the arms race and diminish international security.
In response to such a risk, my delegation supports efforts to bring into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which is the culmination of decades of efforts to prohibit nuclear testing, beginning in 1963, with the Limited Test-Ban Treaty.
The Holy See also supports the strengthening of the ban on nuclear-explosive testing found in Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which through its positive obligations links the ban to the fundamental objective of moving toward a nuclear-weapon-free world. As Pope Francis has said, nuclear weapons “cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity.” Achieving a universal ban on nuclear-explosive testing and restoring the lives and environments harmed by such testing offer such a way forward toward building a “climate of trust and sincere dialogue” in their place.
Thank you, Mr. President.
 Pope Francis, Message on the Occasion of the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 7 December 2014.