Statement to UNGA 78 – Fourth Committee
Agenda item 47: Effects of atomic radiation
New York, 13 October 2023
The Holy See commends the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) for its valuable contribution to the expansion and sharing of knowledge of the levels, effects and risks of exposure to ionizing radiation.
To safeguard human health and protect our common home amid a rise in the use of nuclear technology, States must take into account its potentially adverse health and environmental consequences. With this in mind, my delegation welcomes the Committee’s focus on various health-related topics in its programme of work, including studies on the effects of ionizing radiation on the circulatory, nervous and immune systems.
The Holy See takes particular interest in UNSCEAR’s ongoing study on “Public exposure to ionizing radiation”, with a planned completion in 2024. In recent years, there has been growing awareness of the deleterious effects of exposure to ionizing radiation due to use and testing of nuclear explosives, which disproportionately affect women, children and the unborn. My delegation hopes that the forthcoming study on public exposure devotes ample attention to ongoing, regional and local public exposure in areas contaminated by nuclear use and testing. Such study can help both consolidate existing knowledge about ongoing and expected effects, and determine what additional information is needed, as UNSCEAR has done with previous studies. This information can be used in the efforts to provide assistance to victims and environmental remediation, ensuring that they address the unique needs of every affected persons in a manner grounded in science.
New threats, including inter alia the war in the vicinity of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, run the risk of triggering an uncontrolled release of ionizing radiation. The experience gained by UNSCEAR in assessing the levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station may prove vital to an adequate response to any future incident, whether deliberate or accidental.
In closing, my delegation underscores that UNSCEAR, and other similar international institutions, can help ensure that technological advancements are accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience, to protect life and our common home.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
 Cf. Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 105.