Why NGOs should support Action For UN Renewals "Implement Article 26" Proposal
In considering this proposal, please be mindful of the fact that human beings are organisms and that most micro-organisms / bacteria die from the toxic effects of their waste products, before their food runs out.
In the June 2001 edition of Nonviolent Action Dwight D Eisenhower, General Commander Allied Forces, World War 2 and US President 1952-1960 is quoted as saying:
"Every gun, every warship, every tank and every military aircraft built is, in the
final analysis, a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, from those who are
naked and are not clothed."
This expresses part of the essence of ACTUNs "Proposal for a UN Convention / Protocol on Implementing Article 26 of the UN Charter Regarding Reducing " the diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources" by a set percentage per year." It is about resources. Reducing the amount of resources being spent by the states of the UN on things to kill people, and diverting those resources to positive (UN based) humanitarian and Earthism programmes such as poverty reduction, sustainable development, protecting the vulnerable, peaceful resolution of conflict systems, maintaining the environment.
My talks purpose is to suggest some reasons why NGOs should support this Proposal.
I must emphasize these are my views (many of them recently formed) and not necessarily those of ACTUN. I will talk about the proposal, look at likely opposition, difficulties and benefits. Please forgive my style (I am not very adept at public speaking). Consider substance over from.
Why should NGOs support this campaign? For several reasons:
1. Just imagine how great it will be if we succeed. For the NGOs, for poor people, for all peoples, and indeed life on earth. Its worth a try!
2. For it to succeed we require a broad based campaign, with demonstrated support from a large cross section of the population. Only then will the States of the UN consider it seriously, and perhaps, hopefully make the legally binding commitment required.
3. Without peace Most NGOs cannot achieve their aims. Without a reduction in weapons peace will be very difficult to achieve. Why have a gun if you dont intend to use it?
4. I listened to the UN Millennium summit web cast on the internet (still available on the UN web site, I think), and I noted that many leaders / representatives emphasized the need for peace before poverty can be effectively tackled.
5. Instead of the usual petitions, I would like to suggest that the coalition group ask people / the public to express their support by becoming paid up members of at least one of the coalition groups. This should strengthen those groups.
6. Many NGOs have expertise that will make a valuable positive contribution to the campaign. The proposal should not be owned by an individual or a group, but by all peoples who in their hearts of hearts agree that we need to reduce the amount of precious resources being wasted on armaments.
We are asking for your support. This could take the form of :
a) A policy statement
b) Just saying you support the proposal joining the coalition.
c) Offer of resources (human, financial, physical)
d) Writing a paper (that we can publish on our web site at www.action-for-un-renewal.org.uk ) of an analysis of the proposal from your perspective
e) Getting academics, experts, policy makers to write papers (that we can publish) analysing the proposal.) Offer your suggestions for changes to the proposal
f) Offer to help publicize events related to the proposal
g) Joining the steering committee
h) Informing your members of the proposal
i) Writing letters to MPs, Media etc in support of the proposal.
j) Tells us your concerns and offer your suggestions for changes to the proposal.
i) Any positive and effective support you can think of.
We will be pleased to come and speak about the proposal to your group (resources permitting) and shall be holding other meetings in future to which we will invite you if you so wish.
I am hoping ACTUN will officially launch the campaign in the Autumn of 2001. It would be great if some NGOs have pledged their support by then.
Essentially the proposal is for all the Member States of the UN to make a legally
binding commitment to reduce the amount of the world's human and economic resources
diverted to armaments by a small (one to five) agreed percentage each year. The resources
saved can be used for poverty reduction, sustainable development, peaceful resolution of
conflict systems, maintaining the environment etc. A strong emphasis is placed on
implementation; requiring Members to have systems in place so that their resource figures
can be independently verified / audited each year. Members will be required to recommit
every ten to twenty years, so that if the proposal does not work they can revert back to
spending the world's precious resources making things to kill people.
In summary a 1% to 5% per year reduction over 10 to 20 years. I hope you agree that is reasonable.
To the public; the proposal is about reducing the resources spent on things to kill people (possibly themselves or their relatives especially as in Kofi Annans Millenniums report "We the peoples the Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century.." report we read that most wars are within states and most people killed or injured are civilians), and using those resources to improve the quality of live of all the Earths peoples. The proposal calls for some of the savings to be spent on own states programmes; which conceivably could include tax reductions. Basically if you think too much resources are being spent on arms, support this campaign.
The proposal will:
1. Not eliminate or get rid of weapons. At 1% rate at the end of each year they will still have 99% of the resources they started with. It will reduce arms gradually until minimum levels required to provide security for citizens is reached.
2. It should include the cumulative sum of all resources spent on all arms. From nuclear weapons to hand guns, from war ships to military air craft, from chemical weapons to biological weapons. As Dwight D Eisenhower puts it "Every gun, every warship, every tank and every military aircraft built". It includes research, development, production, marketing, support, maintenance; all resources.
3. I dont believe the proposal is perfect; especially the wording. It needs to be evaluated, analysed, debated, refined by all interested parties and a consensus reached before submission to the United Nations General Assembly. My main concern is that we dont end up with a proposal that the States of the UN cannot commit to, or does not achieve our collective aims.
4. The proposal does not go far enough to satisfy the aims of most NGOs. It does not call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, or an end to the arms trade. These campaigns will go on.
5. The Proposal is aimed at one the Security councils primary responsibility. I have been informed by a senior UNA member that the original intention of this article was that the permanent 5 members of the SC with the veto would own all the weapons so that they could prevent wars with deadly weapons. I think, instead the veto 5 have betrayed this responsibility. Instead of reducing weapons, they have used it as a means of making money, fueling and satisfying the need for arms. Much of the debt owed by developing countries was brought about through the purchase of arms. (The philosophy is that everyone should have a gun to defend themselves). The trade not only provides the veto 5 with economic wealth but also provides the finance to enable them to develop even more weapons. The result is that millions have been killed, wounded, maimed, suffered and impoverished. Some responsibility for the wrecking and termination of these lives must be born by the arms makers. They make some of their living from making and selling weapons to people to kill other people. They make some of their living from the suffering, blood and killing of people. They have blood money in their banks. Effectively, they are using their lives on earth to kill people. Well what is done is done. We cant put the clock back or take away the weapons or knowledge. That "arming everyone" strategy / policy has achieved all it can and now has mostly negative effects. So let us reduce arms gradually. A new strategy / policy is now urgently needed. It will be difficult for the veto 5 as they will require a change of mindset.
6. The Campaign should have a limit of x years or until the convention is passed and ratified.
1. Veto 5. Against policy. A new strategy / policy is now urgently needed. It will be difficult for the veto 5 as they will require a change of mindset. They have the most to lose.
2. Some developing countries may be reluctant; as I suspect that the arms budget provide a major source (skimming) of funds for some of their leadership.
3. Loss of Jobs. I have every confidence that the government and military will be able to effective plan for a 1% year on year reduction. (Incidentally it may put the military in a stronger bargaining position when cuts are necessary due to the economic cycle, as they could argue that they already have a programme of cuts in place).
4. Loss of Jobs. The buggy makers mentality. I recall a story related to me by a lecturer. During the late 1800s one of the wealthiest men in the world died. He and his family had made enormous wealth from the horse and cart trade. In his will he stated that none of the familys wealth should be invested in the (then new) motor car but remain invested in horse based modes of transport. It was beyond his comprehension that the car could overtake the horse based modes of transport. One aspect of the loss of jobs argument is that it is beyond the comprehension of some that the world could do without so many weapons. I hope many of those involved in the arms industry would choose to do something other make things to kill people; given the chance.
5. Loss of Jobs in the UK. The UK military has been cut back by more than is proposed in recent years. This wont be as sudden. As the UK cannot afford to develop the newer high technology weapons they buy them from abroad and make what they can and sell abroad to make up some of the deficit.
6. State secrets. The proposal needs to address this. It has been suggested that states can restrict the countries allowed to audit them / their systems.
7. Major opposition will come from NON-Democratic states. Those that are not ruled with the consent of the people (or government of the people, by the people, for the people); but by groups with interests in (i.e. making money from) armaments.
8. Opposition will come from some of the most powerful sections of society such as the military (less toys for the boys), the arms companies (less profits), Universities (less research); etc. To quote Richard Falk in Peace is Possible "Millions of people gain profits and fame by selling and using weaponry. Strong networks of such people use their money to influence political leaders, elections, and even TV and newspaper coverage"
1. Finding out the strategy / policy / requirements behind some of the coded positions that the veto 5 will take.
2. Bad compromises. Human nature being what it is some states will immediately think how they can support the proposal yet try to gain a military advantage over their perceived enemies.
3. Changing the policy makers mindset.
4. Getting it on the UN agenda (e.g. the stalled the UN Disarmament Conference)
5. Politicking, devices, legal instruments, technicalities, misinformation and general chicanery.
6. Implementation Need mechanism / scope for adjustments in the convention. Note some of the savings will be used to implement the convention mainly implementing independently auditable systems.
7. "In the UN Millennium declaration (September 2000) (as many time in the past) governments from all over the world pledged to free their peoples from the scourge of war" and many other fine pledges. Yet when asked for resources to honour their pledges, few were fourth coming. The UN has many treaties, conventions and resolutions passed to date, but to date few are implemented effectively. Some nations may need help, not just to agree to them, but also to effectively and efficiently implement them. Much of what is needed is there in writing, but it is just not done. No resources, yet precious resources are wasted on weapons. This proposal helps to provide some of those resources.
8. Some of the peace groups / people may be Campaign weary?
"Be patient my brothers and sisters, be patient. Just as a farmer is patient as he waits for the autumn and spring rains to water his crops. So you also must be patient, and hold your hopes up high. Happy are those whose greatest desire is" peace and love.
9. Things we cannot think of.
1. Recall the Reasons why NGOs should support the proposal at the beginning of my talk.
2. Essential to peace and prosperity.
3. The campaign should make people more aware of peace and UN issues.
4. Greater participation.
5. Preserving the earths resources.
6. Saving Lives, reducing poverty.
7. Finance for UN programmes.
8. Things we cannot think of.
I am embarrassed to say I am quite new to the peace movement. Many of you here today are much more knowledgeable than me in these matters and can put up a better case. There are many other points to be made from many peoples. I urge you to use this campaign to make them. It is important to have as far reaching a debate as possible.
Please support and take on this proposal, and let we the peoples start upon a new direction of peace and better usage of our Earths extremely precious resources.
Just Imagine .
Delivered by: Karl Miller at Action For UN Renewal meeting, at The Crypt, St. martins in the Fields, London. 28 Jul 2001
Karl Miller is Secretary of Action For UN Renewal and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org