Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia at the United Nations Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia at the United Nations 

Holy See to UN: 'Why are weapons sold to those who inflict harm?'

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations highlights the dangers of the arms trade, and urges against technological development without responsibility and conscience.

By Joseph Tulloch

Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, addressed the 77th Session of the United Nations general assembly on Monday.

He spoke of the evils of the arms trade, saying that “shamefully, there are those who accumulate great wealth through trafficking in the instruments of death.”

In a second statement, he discussed the dangers of the misuse of communications technology, arguing that “our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads.”

Ending the arms trade

Addressing the Thematic Discussion on Conventional Weapons, Archbishop Caccia reiterated the Holy See’s support for various UN initiatives against the small arms trade. Small arms “may be the so-called weapons of limited destruction,” he said, but every year they claim “hundreds of thousands of lives around the globe.”

The Archbishop also underlined the “deep connection” between peace and integral human development. In 1967, the Archbishop noted, “Pope Paul VI declared that development is the new name for peace”, a call echoed in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which states that “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”

He concluded by quoting Pope Francis: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”

Misuse of communications technology

Archbishop Caccia also addressed the Thematic Discussion on Other Disarmament Measures and International Security, choosing the abuse of communications technology as his theme. While, he said, these technologies have the power to bring us closer together, it is also true that they can be used to do harm.

This misuse, he said, quoting Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli tutti, “stems in part from the fact that “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.” Humanity has thus “entered a new era in which our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads,” offering us “both great promise and risk.”

In view of this, the Archbishop offered three suggestions for states’ conduct in cyberspace.

Firstly, he said, they should “respect the inherent dignity found in each human person”, protecting their freedom of expression and privacy, within reasonable limits.

Secondly, states should protect the most vulnerable, both by protecting their own critical infrastructure – hospitals, water supply systems, power plants, and so on – and by refraining from intentionally damaging that of other states.

Lastly, Archbishop Caccia said, states should be guided by justice, and thus, the “Holy See encourages capacity-building efforts to benefit those States which do not have an equal share in the fruits of the digital revolution.”

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25 October 2022, 12:38