INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE TO THE U.N.
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE UNGA FIRST COMMITTEE
STATEMENT BY H.E.
ARCHBISHOP BERNARDITO AUZA
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
As this is the first time that I address this Committee, allow me to assure
you and the bureau of my delegation’s full cooperation in the pursuit of the
Committee’s vitally important efforts for world peace.
I have the honor to convey to you and to all the delegations the greetings of
His Holiness Pope Francis, who has made clear his strong support for the rapid
adoption of steps that would lead to the elimination of weapons of mass
destruction and to the reduction of the world’s reliance on armed force in the
conduct of international affairs. He pleads for the non-proliferation of arms
and for the disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical
The past year has seen progress on the elimination of chemical weapons; yet
reports of the continued use of chemical weapons, including chlorine gas,
reminds the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate once
and for all chemical weapons and any use as a weapon of dual-use chemicals.
With regard to nuclear weapons, the third conference on the humanitarian
impact of nuclear weapons, which will be held in December in Vienna, Austria, is
a sobering reminder of the deep frustration of the international community at
the lack of speedy progress on nuclear disarmament, and of the inhuman and
immoral consequences of the use of weapons of mass destruction. The inability of
the nuclear-weapon states to begin negotiations toward further reductions in
their existing stockpiles is troubling, but the "modernization" of some existing
systems and the increase of weapons stockpiles are even more troubling.
The ninth NPT Review Conference will take place very soon in New York. Nearly
all the States represented in this room are parties to the NPT. One would think
that a Treaty so important to our mutual security would be implemented more
rapidly and effectively, and that by now decisions taken at previous review
conferences would already be advanced in their implementation. Regrettably, this
has not been and is not the case.
The NPT’s central promise of nuclear weapons States to gradually disarm in
exchange for non-nuclear-weapon States to refrain from acquiring nuclear arms
remains at an impasse. The Holy See continues to believe that a policy of
permanent nuclear deterrence jeopardizes the process of nuclear disarmament and
non-proliferation. My delegation, therefore, urges this Committee and the
preparation for the ninth NPT Review Conference to focus on the need to move
beyond nuclear deterrence, and work toward the establishment of lasting peace
founded on mutual trust, rather than a state of mere non-belligerence founded on
the logic of mutual destruction.
In this regard, the Holy See urges all states to sign and/or ratify the CTBT
without further delay, because it is a core element of the international nuclear
disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
Moreover, my delegation believes that the establishment of weapons of mass
destruction free zones would be a big step in the right direction, as it would
demonstrate we can indeed move toward a universal agreement to eliminate all
weapons of mass destruction.
In keeping our focus on nuclear weapons and the strengthening of the NPT, we
should not neglect our larger objective of a world less reliant on the use of
force. Article VI of the NPT clearly states that "Each of the Parties to the
Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures
related to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear
disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict
and effective international control."
The Holy See welcomes the progress, however modest, in the areas of
conventional weapons, like those related to the implementation of the Ottawa
Convention and of the Cluster Munitions Convention. But it remains deeply
concerned that the flow of conventional arms continues to exacerbate conflicts
around the globe. And let us not forget that financial greed fuels arms sales,
and arms sales fuel conflicts that cause untold sufferings and violations of
human rights. For as long as so great a quantity of arms are in circulation as
at present, new pretexts can always be found for initiating hostilities, and
easy access to arms facilitates the perpetration of violence against innocent
It is my delegation’s sincerest hope that this year’s session will respond to
this challenge, and recognize the grave consequences of the proliferation and
use of conventional weapons on human life throughout the world.
While aware that the work of this Committee is extremely challenging and
agreements are hard to come by, we must never despair. May the proverbial image
of the constant drops of water ever patiently melting the hardest rock inspire
us all to go forward in the midst of slow progress and in spite of stalemates
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.