H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
First Committee of the 60th Session of the United Nations
on agenda item
98: General and complete disarmament
New York, 3
I would like to
congratulate you on your election as Chairman of this important Committee.
Over the past few
months, the international community had some hope that the issues of disarmament
and non-proliferation would be addressed by the world leaders who came to the
Summit for the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations. Indeed, the draft
document prepared for the Summit called on States "to pursue and intensify
negotiations with a view to advancing general and complete disarmament and
strengthening the international non-proliferation regime." It encouraged them to
strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the biological and chemical
weapons conventions. Some specific steps were suggested. Yet this language did
not appear in the adopted Outcome document.
Secretary-General labeled this exclusion a “disgrace.” It happened not because
most leaders and governments do not care. Many of them care a great deal about
the suffering and increased dangers posed by the proliferation of weaponry of
all kinds. But the pressure is such that the legitimate and grave concerns of
many, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, are often set aside.
opening of the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was
an important step forward in reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism, it remains
deplorable that the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May ended
without a single substantive decision. Nuclear weapons are becoming a permanent
feature of some military doctrines, and there has been a dramatic 20 percent
increase in world military spending in the past two years. The combined arms
sales of the top 100 arms-producing companies increased 25 percent in a one-year
period. Small arms kill at least 500,000 people per year, and the U.N.
conferences on this subject have still not produced a legally-binding instrument
on small arms transfers. The legal arms trade is once more on the rise, and the
illegal flow of arms to the world's conflict zones is responsible for countless
deaths. Terrorist attacks using assault rifles, automatic weapons, hand
grenades, land mines, shoulder-launched missiles, and small explosives are
disappointing that the principles and progress of disarmament are being weakened
both by the reluctance of some to disarm and by the unwillingness of others
publicly to take to task such an attitude. The Holy See re-asserts the
importance of arms control and disarmament, which are fundamental pillars
of the architecture for peace.
All members of
the United Nations have a duty to keep working on the technical, legal and
political elements of the disarmament agenda.
This duty becomes more relevant since we
all know that security for all is enhanced when disarmament and development
steps complement one another. The United Nations pioneered studies which show
the integral relationship between disarmament, development and security. We must point up the economic benefits of disarmament
measures. Development alternatives to militarism must be the constant work of
bears a special responsibility this year to repair, to the extent possible, the
omission of disarmament from the Summit's Outcome document. This ought not to
be hard to do because the great majority of States want to move the disarmament
agenda forward surely and speedily. Efforts will be made to revitalize the
First Committee this year and to set up special working committees to deal with
nuclear weapons issues, and this work should be supported. Other efforts will
be made to bring like-minded States together to lay the technical, legal and
political ground work for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. These are signs that
States are serious about overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of a
nuclear weapons-free world.
is an urgent need to work locally, nationally, regionally and globally to
eradicate small arms and light weapons. Multifaceted action incorporating arms
control, crime reduction and peacebuilding components will advance human
security. The important contributions made by civil society should be
acknowledged by governments. Expanding partnerships between governments and
civil society would greatly strengthen disarmament efforts.
Mr. Chairman, the
past year has not been a good one for arms control, disarmament and
non-proliferation. Glossing over failures does not serve the cause of peace.
But we have a responsibility to move from analysis to action. The "we the
peoples" of the United Nations, as the Charter so eloquently refers to humanity,
deserve to be free from the scourge of self destruction.
Thank you, Mr.