Statement at the Second Meeting of States Parties to the
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
General Exchange of Views
28 November 2023
At the outset, please accept the congratulations of the delegation of the Holy See on assuming the Presidency of this Second Meeting of States Parties (2MSP) to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
As we gather for this meeting, we are witnessing a world in turmoil, with an astonishing rise in the number of conflicts, an ongoing climate crisis and delays in achieving development goals. In the midst of these interconnected crises, my Delegation recalls that nuclear weapons have catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences, multiply risks and offer only “an illusion of peace”.
As emphasized by Pope Francis in his message to the Conference to negotiate this Treaty, “in this context, the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative”. The TPNW indeed reminds us that a world free of nuclear weapons is both possible and necessary, and offers us a means of moving towards this goal through dialogue.
This Treaty, however, will not be sufficient if its provisions are not accompanied by an ethic of disarmament. Such an ethical approach must play a role in bringing about a “moral revolution” that replaces the negative concept of security based on “the precarious balance of deterrence” with a positive one based “on the fraternity that unites us.”
A peace based on fraternity and solidarity must seek not only to eliminate nuclear weapons, but must also heal the scars that they have inflicted on individuals, entire communities and on our common home. In this regard, the positive obligations of the Treaty provide an essential means of ensuring that communities affected by the use and testing of nuclear weapons can return to the path of integral development.
Implementing a holistic and integrated approach to assisting victims requires a sound understanding of the effects of nuclear radiation on the human beings. In this context, the Holy See takes note of recent scientific findings on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, particularly the disproportionate impact of ionizing radiation on women and girls.
Building “a world of peace, free from nuclear weapons […] calls for involvement on the part of all.”This includes not only States Parties, but also States that rely on nuclear deterrence, the private sector and civil society. Collaborative and cooperative endeavors like those established here advance the cultivation of mutual confidence, the groundwork of disarmament.
Verification measures sustain and reinforce trust. Therefore, my Delegation welcomes the participation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) at the present meeting. Any future verification regime established in the framework of the TPNW for States to irreversibly eliminate nuclear weapons should be based on current safeguard systems, such as the Additional Protocol, and take into account the lessons learned from other disarmament and arms control regimes.
Before concluding, my Delegation would like to acknowledge the presence of the Hibakusha at this meeting, as well as other victims of the use and testing of nuclear weapons. Through their recollections and prophetic voices, they “keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations the horror of what happened in August 1945 and the unspeakable sufferings that have continued to the present time”. May this collective conscience remind us to be wary of a technocratic mentality, in which scientific progress is not accompanied by an advancement in human responsibility and values.
Thank you, Mr. President.
 Pope Francis, Letter to the Bishop of Hiroshima on the Occasion of the G7 Summit, 19 May 2023.
 Pope Francis, Message to the United Nations Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, leading towards their total elimination, 27-31 March 2017.
 Cf. Pope Francis, Message on the occasion of the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 7 December 2014.
 Pope Francis, Address to the Security Council of the United Nations, 14 June 2023.
 Pope Francis, Address on Nuclear Weapons at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki), 24 November 2019.
 Pope Francis, Message for the Celebration of the 53rd World Day of Peace, 1 January 2020.
 Cf. Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum, 4 October 2023, 24.