Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
62nd session of the UN General Assembly
General debate on all disarmament
and international security agenda items
New York, 16 October 2007
congratulates you on your election as Chairman of this Committee and assures you
and the entire Bureau of its cooperation.
It is a special
pleasure to welcome Ambassador Sergio Duarte at the helm of the Office for
Disarmament Affairs. His vast experience in the disarmament field augurs well
for the fulfillment of his new responsibilities, at a time when the
Secretary-General, with the support of the General Assembly, seeks to revitalize
the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.
A notable event
this year was the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Statute of the
International Atomic Energy Agency. As the use of nuclear power expands in
various parts of the world, the IAEA becomes all the more important. It needs
and deserves stronger support from the international community. The Holy See, a
founding member of the Agency, continues to fully support its goals, convinced
that the IAEA plays a key role in fostering non-proliferation of nuclear arms,
progressive nuclear disarmament, and the use of peaceful and safe nuclear
technology for a development respectful of the environment and ever mindful of
the most disadvantaged populations.
this tense moment in international relations, the world needs to be able to
place confidence in the findings of the IAEA that no State Party to the
Non-Proliferation Treaty is abusing its legitimate right to develop nuclear
energy for peaceful uses to produce nuclear weapons. All the tools of diplomacy
must be used to defuse crises concerning attempts by some countries to acquire
nuclear weapons capabilities and to dissuade others from ever taking such a
dangerous road. Belligerence by anyone would only worsen a delicate situation
and could inadvertently lead to conflagration with immense additional suffering
on a humanity already overburdened with the ravages of war.
On the other
hand, continued failure to bring to a successful conclusion negotiations leading
to the progressive elimination of nuclear weapons and plans to modernize
existing nuclear arsenals jeopardize the viability of the Treaty. The nuclear
weapons States have a particular responsibility to lead the way to a nuclear
weapons-free world. Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation can either
mutually re-enforce or mutually weaken each other. Both are an imperative for
the full implementation of the provisions of the NPT. There cannot be one
without the other.
the 2010 Review Conference of the NPT have begun. In spite of a disappointing
2005 Review Conference, we should not lose sight of the great accomplishment of
the 2000 Review Conference, whose Final Document continues to represent legally
and politically binding guidelines for the full implementation of the NPT. At a
delicate time like this, we appeal to all parties to show “good faith” the NPT
calls for in order to advance negotiations. We appeal as well to both the
political authorities and civil society to reject nuclear weapons.
The entry into
force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the start of negotiations
for a verifiable ban on the production of fissile materials are long overdue.
These two steps would show a waiting world that all governments are sincere in
trying to stop a new nuclear arms race. It is not so much technical deficiency
holding us back more than the lack of political will.
recognition of the values of morality would play an instrumental role in
effecting political will. The Holy See has said many times in this Committee
that nuclear weapons contravene every aspect of humanitarian law. They are an
affront to our stewardship of the environment, in as much as they can destroy
life on the planet and the planet itself. They must be done away with. By
holding resolutely to these convictions, the Holy See hopes to awaken in the
hearts of all people of “good faith” a renewed determination to ensure that
never again will the horrors of nuclear war be visited upon humanity.
danger of a nuclear device ending in the hands of terrorists is real and
present. Thus the Holy See welcomed the recommendation of The Weapons of Mass
Destruction Commission that the General Assembly convene a World Summit on
disarmament, non-proliferation and terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction,
and favours that it be held in 2009. The time to prepare for such an historic
Summit is now.
This Committee is
called to work hard to address not only the nuclear danger but also other
issues, such as conventional disarmament, the arms trade, chemical and
biological weapons. Its work in these areas has our fullest support.
expects this Committee to take further steps on arms control in the field of
conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons. My delegation
shares the grave concern of conflict-ridden countries, whose experience tells us
that illicit trade in arms, their accumulation and illicit production are a
hindrance to the peaceful settlement of disputes, drive tensions into armed
conflicts and are a key factor in prolonging them, thus heavily compromising
peace and development. Moreover, these weapons play a role in almost every
conflict and are often used in violations of human rights and of international
humanitarian law. It was in this spirit that last year the Holy See supported
the adoption of the draft resolution Towards an Arms Trade Treaty: establishing
common international standards for the import, export and transfer of convention
weapons (res. 61/89). It is hoped that this objective gain greater momentum in
the coming years.
conflicts have shown irrefutable evidence of the humanitarian disasters caused
by cluster munitions, especially on the civilian population, thus violating
international humanitarian law. The Holy See continues to support the urgency to
start negotiations, preferably within the CCW framework, for a legally binding
instrument on cluster munitions and, in the meantime, for a moratorium of their
production, distribution and use.
must summon all its resources of strength and will to give leadership in
overcoming daunting challenges. We must be animated by the values of
responsibility, solidarity and dialogue to light the way forward.
Thank you, Mr