Statement at the Second Meeting of States Parties to the
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation and assistance (articles 6 and 7)
30 November 2023
The Holy See commends Kazakhstan and Kiribati for their efforts as Co-Chairs of the informal working group on victim assistance, environmental remediation, international cooperation and assistance and welcomes their report as submitted.
The positive obligations contained in the TPNW serve to heal the scars that nuclear weapons have inflicted on individuals, entire communities and our common home. The areas impacted by nuclear weapons activities continue to expose populations to the harmful effects of ionizing radiation, including through the contamination of food and water supplies. This legacy calls for urgent action by States Parties in a position to do so to cooperate with and assist affected States Parties, which often lack the resources to address such harms on their own.
In this regard, the Holy See promotes a holistic and integrated approach to assisting victims, that is firmly anchored in human dignity and integral development. This includes ensuring that assistance reaches affected diaspora communities that have been displaced from sites where testing or use has been conducted, raising public awareness about the human and ecological consequences, addressing economic impacts and studying the psychological effects of trauma. These endeavors have the potential to heal the human family and restore the environment.
As Pope Francis reminds us, “we cannot pretend to be healthy in a world that is sick.”
My Delegation further supports continued discussions on the feasibility of and possible guidelines for the establishment of an international trust fund, as proposed by the Co-Chairs. To optimize its efficiency and encourage unity with States still not Parties to the TPNW, any forthcoming international trust fund should welcome voluntary donations from the broadest possible pool of contributors. Furthermore, decisions regarding the allocation of funds should be entirely at the discretion of States Parties.
Victim assistance and environmental remediation efforts can be an area of common ground between States Parties and States that are not yet Party. Many States already have their own national legal obligations to provide assistance to victims of nuclear weapons activities, and to remediate environmental damage. While these national frameworks often have numerous shortcomings, they provide an opportunity for dialogue.
Finally, my Delegation would like to encourage the Co-Chairs to redouble their efforts to involve indigenous communities in discussions concerning articles 6 and 7, while recognizing that socio-economic conditions or unique cultural practices may make this difficult. The TPNW acknowledges that, historically and at present, indigenous communities endured a disproportionate burden of the negative impacts of nuclear weapon activities. Thus, their views must be accounted for in elaborating a framework for assistance and remediation in response to this impact.
Thank you, Mr. President.
 Pope Francis, Letter to the President of the Republic of Colombia to Mark the World Environment Day, 5 June 2020.