Holy See to Atomic Energy Agency

"The First Obligation We Share Is the Obligation of Working Together"

| 1714 hits

VIENNA, Austria, OCT. 2, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for relations with states, delivered at the 52nd session of the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, under way through Friday in Vienna.



* * *

Mr. President,

1. I have the honour of conveying to you, to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, and to all the distinguished participants in this 52nd General Conference of the IAEA the best wishes and cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. In His Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace the Holy Father invited "every man and woman to have a more lively sense of belonging to the one human family, and to strive to make human coexistence increasingly reflect this conviction, which is essential for the establishment of true and lasting peace" (No. 15).

This "lively sense of belonging to the one human family", a recognition of the unity of the human family, and attention to the innate dignity of every man and woman, today find renewed emphasis in the principle of the responsibility to protect. This was present implicitly at the origins not only of the United Nations, but of the International Atomic Energy Agency as well, and is now increasingly characteristic of the activity of these international organizations. The emphasis of the Pope on this "lively sense of belonging to the one human family" and the responsibility it entails is also the message that my Delegation would like to bring to this 52nd General Conference.

Mr. President,

During last year's session of the Agency's General Conference the Holy See underlined that «in the difficult crossroads in which humanity today finds itself, a crossroads characterized by an ever-increasing interdependence on the economic, political, social and environmental levels, the use of force no longer represents a solution sustainable through time: it nourishes a reciprocal diffidence and makes reference to a distorted sense of priorities that make use of enormous resources in a near-sighted way». […] It is necessary to re-define the priorities and the hierarchies of values on the basis of which one can focus a common effort to mobilize resources towards objectives of moral, cultural and economic development. In order to promote such an approach, it is indispensable to favour a serious multilateralism based on a renewed collective sense of security, one capable of building a real climate of peace and trust that recognizes that development, solidarity and justice are none other than the true name for peace, for a lasting peace in time and in space».

2. The IAEA is an important organization working to protect and promote life in a most crucial area of human endeavour: the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The more than 50-year history of the Agency bears testimony to the pressing need we have in today's world to work together for the one human family in order to deal constructively with a sector of human life that has become complex and many-faceted. The treatment of these pressing issues surrounding the peaceful use of nuclear technology offers possibilities for good or for bad in ways that previous generations did not have to face.

That is why the first obligation we share is the obligation of working together, of sharing our expertise, of building up a common consensus through common effort and commitment. Thus, the overriding characteristic that must pervade the work the IAEA undertakes in the three areas of its mandate, namely, technology, safety and verification, should always be to unite and associate, not to divide and oppose. This characteristic stems from the spirit that called the Agency into existence and is expressed in the so-called "spirit of Vienna". It is reinforced by the demands that the content of our fields of expertise makes on us.

3. A first level of this "working together obligation" is working together for nuclear safety and security. The Holy See supports all the efforts to strengthen both the effectiveness and efficiency of the IAEA's safeguards system, as well as the elaboration and implementation through the Agency of an effective world-wide security regime, based on conventions, standards and assistance. The Holy See desires to see all States work together to be part of these instruments whose main purpose is to promote nuclear safety and security, ensure the non-diversion of nuclear materials and the absence of undeclared nuclear activities. These instruments will not only contribute to the fight against nuclear terrorism, but also to the concrete realisation of a culture of life and peace capable of promoting in an effective way the integral development of peoples. This is politically possible.

4. A second level of the "working together obligation" is working together for the use of peaceful and safe nuclear technology, respecting the environment and ever mindful of the most disadvantaged populations. A particular characteristic of the age in which we live is the phenomenon of globalisation and, intimately connected with it, the concern we must have for the good of people as a whole, for the well-being of society, for what we traditionally call the "common good". For the IAEA this will mean working together to contribute not only to a specific project or to a certain government or agency, but above all to the good of all the people of the world. Thus, the worth of a project will be measured by the impact it will have on cultural and other human values, as well as on the economic and social well-being of a people or nation. Promotion of the common good demands respect for the cultures of nations and peoples coupled with a sense of the solidarity of all peoples under the guidance of a common Father.

In this sense, the Technical Co-operation Program of the IAEA is an efficient instrument for the purpose of peaceful nuclear development and an example of what can be achieved when we come together. The Holy See would like to take this occasion to reiterate its appreciation for the work and achievements of the IAEA technical co-operation, in particular in the fields of agriculture, hydrology, food security and medicine, and to encourage the IAEA to continue and to strengthen these activities.

Another area of concern is the access to safe drinking water. The urgency of a solution to this world-wide problem, to which the IAEA can contribute in its own specific way, should not be underestimated since it is a precondition for any sustainable development. Indeed, it is increasingly evident that development policies demand a genuine international cooperation, carried out in accord with decisions made jointly and within the context of a universal vision, one which considers the good of the human family in both the present generation and in those to come.

5. A third level of the "working together obligation" is working together for nuclear disarmament. Since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, is the basis for pursuing nuclear disarmament and an important element for further development of nuclear energy applications for peaceful purposes, it must not be allowed to be weakened. Humanity deserves no less than the full co-operation of all States in this important matter. In this regard, Pope Benedict XVI wrote is his Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace: "Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows upon its future. Vast areas of the world are caught up in situations of increasing tension, while the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person....On a broader scale, one must acknowledge with regret the growing number of States engaged in the arms race. In difficult times such as these, it is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms" (No. 14). For these reasons, the Holy See entreats and encourages those in authority to come together in order to resume with greater determination a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons. The Holy See makes this appeal also in the name of all those concerned for the future of humanity.

Furthermore, global security must not rely on nuclear weapons. The Holy See considers the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) an important tool to achieve this aim, without mentioning the CTBT potential civil and scientific application through its International Monitoring System. I am honoured to have the name of the Holy See, as well my own name, on the list of countries that support the Ministerial Statement of the IV CTBT Ministerial Conference. The Holy See is convinced that, in working together, the signature, ratification and entry into force of the Treaty will represent a great leap forward for the future of humanity, as well as for the protection of the earth and environment entrusted to our care by the Creator.

6. In his recent Encyclical Letter, Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI indicated that "[e]very generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs" (No. 25). For Christians, this task is motivated by the hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ. That is why the Holy See, fully approving the goals of the IAEA, is a member of this Organization since its foundation and continues to support its mandate "to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world" (IAEA Statute, Art. 2). All this is something that the Catholic Church and the Holy See will continue to follow attentively and with great interest, seeing in the activity of the IAEA an example of how issues and conflicts concerning the world community can be subject to common regulation when we all work together.

My concluding wish, Mr. President, is that the IAEA and its Member States will strive "to make human coexistence increasingly reflect the lively sense of belonging to the one human family", thus renewing their commitment to realising the dream and vision of "Atoms for Peace" for the security, development and well-being of the one human family.

Thank you, Mr. President!