Vatican Calls for a Ban on Nuclear Weapons

January 8, 2015

During the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons last month, Pope Francis expressed support for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons as a matter of necessity and urgency. The message was, delivered by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, addressing over 800 participants representing 158 states and over 200 civil society organisations.

The statement drew attention to the universal global threat posed by nuclear weapons, dismissing the idea that nuclear disarmament should be left to the exclusive domain of the nuclear-armed states. Such a challenge as nuclear weapons requires a cohesive approach rooted in “an ethic of solidarity.” Referring to existing international law, the statement also condemns the indiscriminate harm and unnecessary suffering caused by nuclear weapons as unacceptable. The Hibakusha and other nuclear victims are the living legacy of these effects. We must continue to listen to their testimony and use it to guide progress on nuclear elimination.

In addition to the threat caused by the weapons themselves, the very development and maintenance of nuclear weapons diverts resources that could be invested in social and human development. The statement points out that the massive resources being squandered on nuclear weapons are being done so at the expense of the poor and marginalized, levying an unacceptable cost.

The statement from Pope Francis also drew attention to the flawed logic of deterrence, and that it can no longer be the foundation of nuclear policy. Deterrence is not only an ineffective policy, but one grounded in threats and fear as opposed to cooperation and good faith. The only path forward is to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons immediately. “’A world without nuclear weapons’ is a goal shared by all nations and echoed by world leaders, as well as the aspiration of millions of men and women. The future and the survival of the human family hinges on moving beyond this ideal and ensuring that it becomes a reality.”

Full statement available here.



  • aiweiwei

    “Let’s act up! Ban nuclear weapons completely and unconditionally.”

    Ai Weiwei Artist and activist

  • sheen

    “If Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr were alive today, they would be part of ICAN.”

    Martin Sheen Actor and activist

  • bankimoon

    “I salute ICAN for working with such commitment and creativity.”

    Ban Ki-moon Former UN chief

  • yokoono

    “We can do it together. With your help, our voice will be made still stronger. Imagine peace.”

    Yoko Ono Artist

  • jodywilliams

    “Governments say a nuclear weapons ban is unlikely. Don’t believe it. They said the same about a mine ban treaty.”

    Jody Williams Nobel laureate

  • desmondtutu

    “With your support, we can take ICAN its full distance – all the way to zero nuclear weapons.”

    Desmond Tutu Nobel laureate

  • herbiehancock

    “Because I cannot tolerate these appalling weapons, I whole-heartedly support ICAN.”

    Herbie Hancock Jazz musician

  • dalailama

    “I can imagine a world without nuclear weapons, and I support ICAN.”

    Dalai Lama Nobel laureate