The Holy See
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Draft Statement of the
Delegation of the Holy See at the
IAEA General Conference 1999*

29 September 1999


1. Mr. President, first of all permit me to convey to you the congratulations of the Delegation of the Holy See on your election to the presidency of this General Conference of the IAEA. As well as to express our appreciation to Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei and the Secretariat for their dedicated service.

2. Mr. President, distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen. On the eve of the third millennium, the Agency may look back with some satisfaction on what had been achieved since its founding more than 40 years ago. Still, many challenges have to be faced in the future emerging from the Agency’s main task, namely, “contributing to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world”, in other words, promoting peace and international co-operation by establishing a safeguarded world based on mutual trust and confidence among nations.

3. Mr. President, one of these challenges, just mentioned, is of major concern to the Holy See, because security and safeguards in nuclear matters are preconditions for a peaceful world which all of us so intensely desire. Even though a nuclear conflict seems to be remote for the time being, illicit trafficking in nuclear material eventually might pave the way for clandestine activities which greatly disturb the international community. Fear and anxiety about the real possibilities of a secret production of explosive nuclear devices do not foster trust and confidence.

May I remind here that the Holy See has signed and ratified the Additional Protocol to the NPT Safeguards Agreement, and that the Vatican doors are widely opened for any verification of the Holy See’s Report on that mater.

The Agency’s comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocols, if truly adhered to and implemented, will reduce fear and anxiety about a nuclear threat and promote trust and confidence and, so we earnestly hope, eventually bring about a world-wide disarmament of all nuclear weapons.

4. Mr. President, another area of major concern to my Delegation is the search for and supply of potable water, this most precious resource. It has been estimated that, under prevailing conditions, by the middle of the next century less than 50 % of the world population will have full access to potable water. It is, therefore, of vital importance to provide sufficient water supplies for mankind. The Holy See welcomes all efforts and initiatives of the Agency and its Member States in solving the problem of fresh water shortages, and expresses its support to the Draft Resolutions submitted to the General Conference by India on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. The use of isotope hydrology in search of untapped water resources and the use of nuclear technology for the production of potable water through desalination of sea water appear to bring about a feasible solution. The urgency of a solution to this world-wide demand of water should not be underestimated, because it is, indeed, a precondition to any sustainable development.

5. Mr. President. Speaking of Sustainable Development in this context, it has to be noted that the Agency’s Technical Co-operation activities are a most effective contribution to this developing process. The Secretariat is to be commended for the successful implementation of the Technical Co-operation programmes, aiming at environmentally friendly results, thus trying to keep the balance of the natural ecology intact. The concept of the Model Project and the noted progress achieved through the introduction of Model Project in recipient countries might eventually lead to what Pope John Paul II meant when he coined the phrase of “human ecology”, another precondition for sustainable development (cf. Encyc. Centesimus annus of 1 May 1991, No. 38 f.). Sustainable Development has to go hand in hand with its social dimensions for and with those human being involved. By human ecology, then, is meant the balance within the respective groups of people, beginning on family level, in the community and civil society. In this way we also may look at the Agency’s contribution to “peace, health and prosperity”.

Thank you, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentleman, for your attention.

*L’Osservatore Romano 4-5/10/1999 p.2.

L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly Edition in Eng n.42 p.19.