Source: vatican news

By Lisa Zengarini | VATICAN NEWS

NEW YORK. 18 OCTOBER 2023 (IDN | TNW) — The Holy See has decried the current “downward spiral of arms control and disarmament policies”, urging for “renewed efforts to advance progress on nuclear disarmament at a time when the risk of nuclear war becomes again a reality.”  

Speaking on 17 October at the First Committee of the UN 78th General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, which addresses disarmament and international security matters, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia lamented that the international community “has collectively moved in the wrong direction, discarding important treaties on arms control, disarmament and transparency”, with “the international disarmament machinery remaining in deadlock.”

Stall in talks on the review of the NPT 

Since 2010, periodic talks for the review of the landmark 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) have stalled, as international tensions have increased.

Following the failure of the 2015 Review Conference, the 2022 review conference ended again without agreement as Russia blocked consensus on the negotiated outcome document.

This poses significant risks for the global non-proliferation regime with some states, including Iran, increasing their interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. 

Increased polarization and distrust between States

In his statement, Archbishop Caccia expressed the Holy See’s disappointment “at the increased levels of polarization and mistrust at the First Session of the Preparatory Commission for the 11th Review Conference of on NPT due to take place in 2026.

“At a time when flexibility is most needed, the lack of a chair’s summary will be detrimental in working towards consensus” in 2026, the Vatican Permanent Observer to the UN said.  

He therefore reiterated the Holy See’s call urging all States Parties “to spare no effort to reverse the current downward spiral” and “to rededicate themselves to renewing arms reduction mechanisms leading toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Failure to reach consensus

The Apostolic Nuncio further regretted the continued inability of the Conference on Disarmament (the international negotiating body for multilateral nuclear disarmament, ed.), to adopt a program of work and “the failure of the UN Disarmament Commission to reach consensus on ‘recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons’.”

He recalled the responsibility under the Charter for Member States, especially those with nuclear weapons, “to take effective collective measures for the preservation and removal of threats to peace.”

Archbishop Caccia underscored that this responsibility must extend to the elimination of nuclear weapons, “given their catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences” and must guide a dialogue including “as far as possible” all stakeholders: nuclear states, countries which do not possess nuclear weapons, the military and private sectors, as well religious communities, civil societies, and international organizations.

Condemnation of rhetoric that threatens use of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing

Archbishop Caccia furher relayed the Holy See’s unequivocal condemnation of all rhetoric that threatens the use of nuclear weapons, recalling that such threats “increase tensions and elevate the risk of both intentional and unintentional use, placing humanity at the precipice of calamity.”

He also reiterated the Vatican’s condemnation for nuclear explosive testing, “which can lead to serious danger for various forms of life on earth”, while commending efforts to assist victims of of these tests.

Archbishop Caccia concluded his intervention by saying that despite the “dark clouds of growing conflict and escalatory rhetoric there is ample space for hope."

In this regard, he said the Holy See looks forward to the convening of the Second meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). It also welcomes the deliberations of the NPT Working Group on Further Strengthening the Review Process. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Image source: Vatican News