The Holy See
back up



Beijing, China
Tuesday, 21 April 2009


Mister Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour to deliver this Statement in the name of His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States.

At the outset, allow me to express my gratitude to the competent Authorities of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese Atomic Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency for their organization of what is developing into a most fascinating Conference.

Mister Chairman,

The participants in this Conference might be interested in knowing that the Holy See is a Founding Member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The constantly increasing world-wide demand for energy requires a serious reflection on the role of nuclear energy. The reflections that follow are offered as the Holy See's contribution, based on its specific nature, to the discussions on nuclear energy in the 21st Century.

It is well known that nuclear technology presents not only risks, but also great opportunities for humanity. In this perspective, while it is important to recognize the inalienable right of States "to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination" (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Article IV.1), it is equally important to recognize that this right is not absolute. It is subject to the condition of an effective process of disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is, above all, a right in relation to that of every other State. Each State is called to follow the ways of development and the common good of peoples and not national power, be it economic or military. A wise energy policy necessarily leads to the development of peoples a development that is respectful of the natural environment, as a good in itself and as a good from which life and human health also depend, and ever mindful of the most disadvantaged populations (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, 29 July 2007). As affirmed by the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development of 1986: "The human person is the central subject of development" (Art. 2/1).

Mister President,

Among the numerous and complex variables of a political and economic nature, the essential point of reference remains, in fact, the human person, with his dignity and his fundamental rights. In this perspective, energy security and nuclear security do not simply represent strategic objectives; rather, they are the means to favour "the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world" (IAEA Statute, Art. II).

This possible contribution calls for great wisdom and a sense of responsibility on the part of States. Above all, it seems necessary and urgent to re-launch multi-lateralism and the surveillance and monitoring activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency. These activities do not represent a limit to the legitimate interests of States, but rather they are a guarantee for the security and common good of all peoples. Even civilian programs I am here thinking of the question of dual use require an effective international monitoring, while respecting the freedom of States.

It is true that energy security and nuclear security require the adoption of appropriate technical and legal measures. Nevertheless, these alone can never be the only response to that which is, above all, a matter pertaining to human nature. Threats to security come from attitudes and actions hostile to human nature. It is, therefore, on the human level that one must act on the cultural and ethical level. If, in the short term, technical and legal measures are necessary for the protection of nuclear material and sites, as well as for the prevention of acts of nuclear terrorism, whose possible devastating effects are truly difficult to imagine, then, in the long-term, prevention measures are also called for, measures that penetrate the deepest cultural and social roots of criminal activity and terrorism. What is absolutely necessary are programs of formation for the diffusion of a "culture of safety and security" both in the nuclear sector and in the public conscience in general. A special role must be reserved for codes of conduct for human resources which, in the nuclear sector, must always be conscious of the possible effects of their activity. Security depends upon the State, but above all on the sense of responsibility of each person.

Mister President,

This sense of responsibility on the part of States also calls for a greater coherence between politics of development and politics of disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. This coherence must also be nourished by an international co-operation that alone is capable of guaranteeing balanced and shared solutions, and of preventing the tensions linked to the isolation of national or regional strategies.

If, on the one hand, it is necessary to look without prejudice to the use of nuclear technology and, in particular, of nuclear energy, then, on the other hand, it is also necessary to renew the commitment to a general and complete nuclear disarmament. Disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons have great political value, in that they affirm the preeminence of trust over arms and of diplomacy over force. This option is in line with the rule, sanctioned by the Charter of the United Nations, for which all States shall "promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources" (art. 26). This also has a notable economic value, from the moment in which "resources released through disarmament measures should be devoted to the economic and social development and well-being of all peoples and, in particular, those of the developing countries" (Declaration on the Right to Development of 1986, p. 12).

Mister President,

The nuclear sector can represent a great opportunity for the future. This explains the "nuclear renaissance" that is emerging at the world level. This renaissance seems to offer horizons of development and prosperity. At the same time, it could be reduced to an illusion without a "cultural and moral renaissance". Unfortunately, simple material well-being does not eliminate the risks connected to the cultural and moral poverty of men and women, as well as to conflicts linked to cultural and moral misery. For this reason, energy policies are to be viewed in the perspective of the "integral development of the human being" (Declaration on the Right to Development of 1986, p. 5), that includes not only material development but, above all, the cultural and moral development of each and every person and of all peoples. All are involved in this ambitious and indispensable project, both inside and outside of the nuclear and energy sector, both in the public and private sector, and both on a governmental and non-governmental level. In this way, a common commitment to security and peace will lead not only to a just distribution of the earth's resources, but above all to the building of a "social and international order in which the rights and freedoms" of all human persons can be fully realized (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 28).

Thank you for your kind attention.