INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE
AT THE NINTH NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY REVIEW CONFERENCE
H.E. ARCHBISHOP BERNARDITO AUZA,
APOSTOLIC NUNCIO AND
OBSERVER OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE UNITED NATIONS*
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
At the very outset, my Delegation wishes to express its solidarity and
closeness to the populations struck by a powerful earthquake in Nepal and in
Madam President, my Delegation is pleased to congratulate you and the Bureau
on your election, and to assure you of its active participation and
Madame President, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The victims are still with us. The Hibakusha are a
living testimony calling all of us to take the right decisions today if we do
not want to face similar situations tomorrow. Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be a
reminder of the importance of the NPT Review Conferences as an instrument to rid
humanity of the risks of nuclear war. The very reason for the NPT is anchored in
the dignity of the human person and in the collective recognition of the
catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any nuclear detonation.
The world’s nuclear arsenals still contain far too many of these weapons. The
theory of nuclear deterrence is too ambiguous to be a stable and global basis
for world security and international order. On the contrary, these weapons are
per se inhumane and unethical. This is why the NPT was negotiated. The hopes
that have been placed by some in the system of deterrence as a strategy for
preventing nuclear weapons use and for providing a stable security have not
delivered the sort of peace and stability expected.
The risks of nuclear weapons are well known. Nuclear weapon states and
non-nuclear states alike are aware of the exceptional instability caused by
these weapons. The instability is greater in some regions than in others and
more acute in some periods than others. The consequences of this instability are
too important to be adopted as a basis for a genuine, peaceful and stable
international order. The NPT is far from the idea that the balance of terror is
the best basis for political, economic and cultural stability in the world.
The risks and the instability connected with the existence of nuclear weapons
are an urgent call to take concrete and effective steps to address this
situation by renewing collectively the commitment to nuclear non-proliferation
and nuclear disarmament which stands at the heart of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. There is no doubt that the safest and surest path
toward non-use is the mutual and total renunciation of these weapons, and the
effective dismantling of the infrastructure on which they depend. It is this
vision and commitment of a future without nuclear weapons that brings us
together. The NPT is an important instrument for the security of all. The
failure to translate in good faith the obligations contained therein constitutes
a real threat to the survival of humanity as a whole.
Madam President, the discriminatory nature of the NPT is well known.
Discrimination between countries with and countries without nuclear weapons
cannot be a permanent solution. This situation was meant to be provisory. The
status quo is unsustainable and undesirable. If it is unthinkable to imagine a
world where nuclear weapons are available to all, it is reasonable to imagine,
and to work collectively for, a world where nobody has them. Moreover, this is
our reading of the letter and the spirit of the NPT.
The very possession of nuclear weapons will continue to come at an enormous
financial cost. The expenditures, current and projected, represent resources
that could, and indeed should, be put toward the development of societies and
people. Pope Francis put it strongly in his message to the President of the
Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons: “Spending
on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations. To prioritize such spending
is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested
in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight
against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the
weak living on the margins of society pay the price”.
In fact, the world faces enormous challenges: extreme poverty, environmental
problems, migration flows, military conflicts, economic crises, etc. Only
cooperation and solidarity among nations is capable of confronting them. To
continue investing in expensive weapon systems is paradoxical. In particular, to
continue investing in the production and modernization of nuclear weapons is
illogical. Billions are wasted each year to develop and maintain stocks that
will presumably never be used. Is it not legitimate to ask the question whether
these investments do not contradict the spirit of the NPT?
The possession of nuclear weapons and the reliance on nuclear deterrence have
a highly negative impact on the interrelations of states. National security
often comes up in discussions on nuclear weapons. This concept should not be
used in a partial and biased manner and never in contradiction with the common
good. All states have the right to national security. Why is it that the
security of some can only be met with a particular type of weapon, whereas other
states must ensure their security without them? On the other hand, reducing
peace and the security of states, in practice, to its military dimension is
artificial and simplistic. Socio-economic development, political participation,
respect for fundamental human rights, strengthening the rule of law, cooperation
and solidarity at the regional and international level, etc. are essential to
the national security of states. Is it not urgent to revisit in a transparent
and honest manner the definition made by states, especially the nuclear weapons
states, of their national security?
We are all aware that the goal of a world without nuclear weapons is not easy
to achieve. As many say, it is a complex and difficult issue. All human
realities are difficult and complex. But this is neither a reason nor an excuse
not to implement the obligations undertaken in conformity with the NPT. For
this, all energies and commitments are necessary. They are even more necessary
in times of international tensions. The role of international organizations,
religious communities, civil society, and academic institutions is vital to not
allowing hope to die, or to let cynicism and realpolitik take over.
Ethics based on the threat of mutually assured destruction is not worthy of
A lack of concrete and effective nuclear disarmament will lead sooner or
later to real risks of nuclear proliferation. This Review Conference is a
challenge for all states parties. Failure is not an option. The erosion of the
credibility of the npt could have catastrophic consequences for all countries
and for the future of humanity as a whole.
To conclude, I would like to again quote Pope Francis: “Nuclear deterrence
and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics
of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among people and states. The youth of
today and tomorrow deserve far more. They deserve a peaceful world order based
on the unity of the human family, grounded on respect, cooperation, solidarity
and compassion”. This is the raison d’Ítre of the NPT.
I thank you, Madam President.
* L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n.
20, 15 May 2015.