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Monday, November 3, 2014

The Holy See at the United Nations advocates a peaceful use of space

Vatican City, 3 November 2014 (VIS) – “For a peaceful use of space” was the theme of the intervention by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations, during the session of the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee which took place on 17 October and focused on “International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space”.

“Since the earliest days of human history, humanity has looked to the sky with wonder, longing to understand celestial realities and their meaning in relation to humanity itself”, observed the nuncio. “Because of the fundamental questions it has always raised, the exploration of the universe has also deepened the understanding of faith and its rapport with science. The Holy See believes that faith is capable of both expanding and enriching the horizons of reason; thus, it rejoices in the marvellous progress of science, seeing it both as a product of the enormous God-given potential of the human mind and as manifestation of the vastness and richness of creation”.

“Our responsibility is to ensure that the fruits of these advances also benefit the poor around the world”, he continued. “My delegation is fully aware of the constraints to a universal access to the beneficial uses of outer space, considering the huge investments put into explorations and questions related to intellectual property, patents, etc. However, in a time when outer space has become a huge economic asset and hosts information and communications technologies, States must work together to ensure that these benefits do not become yet another cause of increasing economic and social inequalities, but rather a shared resource for the common good of the entire global community. Vital to promoting this common good is ensuring the peaceful use of outer space. To this end, the ongoing discussion on the development of an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities represents a positive step toward furthering a fairer and safer use of outer space. It would undoubtedly help toward preventing an arms race in outer space and, consequently, toward averting a new, grave threat to international peace and security”.

The archbishop went on to emphasise the importance of using outer space for an ever greater understanding of our planet. “Satellites monitor the health of oceans and forests. They provide data on water cycles, climate patterns and other atmospheric phenomena. We trust that this knowledge can convince us to change lifestyles and practices detrimental to our environment. If we do not work together, there will be no winners, only losers”.

“The Holy See wishes to highlight the use of satellites in the diffusion of knowledge and the elimination of illiteracy”, he concluded. “Indeed, satellites can reach not only those places where illiteracy is a thing of the past, but also those where many still cannot read or write, especially in far-flung areas. However, care must be taken that this outer space technology does not become an instrument of dominion and a vehicle to impose certain cultures and values on others”.

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