Why Young People should support the Arms Reduction Coalition

Karl Miller 4 Nov 01 v0.2 – For Warwick MUN

Kindred Spirits,


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 Action for UN Renewal’s Arms Reduction Coalition (ARC) campaign. In summary, this is a proposal for the states of the UN to agree and implement a legally binding instrument, to reduce the amount of resources spent on arms by between 1 and 5 percent for a period of between 10 and 25 years, and to spend the resources saved on programmes that benefit humanity and the earth. The proposal is based on Implementing Article 26 of the UN Charter which states "In order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources, the Security Council shall be responsible for formulating, with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee referred to in Article 47, plans to be submitted to the Members of the United Nations for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments". ARC 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 and NGO based) humanitarian and Earthism programmes such as poverty reduction, sustainable development, protecting the vulnerable, conflict prevention, peaceful resolution of conflict systems, maintaining the environment.

My talk’s purpose is to suggest some reasons why young people should support this Proposal and join the ARC – Arms Reduction Coalition.

I must emphasize these are my views (many of them recently formed) and not necessarily those of Action For UN Renewal. 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 Young peoples support this campaign?

For several reasons:
1. Just imagine how great it will be when we succeed. For the Young peoples, for poor people, for all peoples, and indeed life on earth. Its worth a try! Do you as young people want to live in a world where more taxes are spent on making weapons to kill people than on Housing and Environment or Agriculture and employment or Transport? Is that civilized progress?

2. For ARC 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 earnestly, and perhaps, hopefully make and implement the legally binding commitment required.

I note from the UN web site that periodically the UN tries to implement article 26, but they usually fail to reduce the resources diverted to armaments or at best have limited success.

On 12 December 19801980 The UN passed Resolution 35/142 B : "Reduction of Military Budgets". It states the UN is "Convinced that reductions of military expenditures could be carried out without affecting the military balance to the detriment of the national security of any country". It Recommended and succeeded in setting up a
"regular system for the international reporting of military expenditures, …. and at the same time recommending that a further study should be undertaken of the problems of comparing military expenditures among different States and in different years as well as the problems of verification that will arise in connexion with agreements on reduction of military expenditures". You can find the reports on the UN web site.

Indeed the UN has have departments and committees devoted to disarmament – but at present they can’t even agree to set a date for the next disarmament conference.

The result of this slow progress in the UN has been a continued proliferation of arms world wide. Consider there are about 500 million small arms in the world, that is one per 12 persons. The states of the UN will only reduce the amount of resources expended on armaments when their peoples demand it.

3. Without peace NGO’s and the UN cannot achieve their aims. Without a reduction in weapons; peace will be very difficult to achieve. Why have a gun if you don’t intend to use it? ARC is Concerned by the obstacles, threats and difficulties that the large amounts of arms in circulation pose to the maintenance of peace and security and to Non-Governmental Organisations and UN departments in carrying out their work. The present cycle is:
A) Large amounts of resources are used to make weapons.
B) The weapons are used to maim and kill people and to destroy their homes, their infrastructure and the environment.
C) The UN, NGO’s and people who care are left to pick up the pieces and try to alleviate the resulting poverty and suffering and rebuilding their environments.
D) The world turns. Humanity advances. The weapons are replenished by more advanced and destructive ones and the cycle starts again.

4. I listened to the UN Millennium summit web cast (in September 2000) on the internet (still available on the UN web site), and I noted that many leaders / representatives emphasized the need for peace before poverty can be effectively tackled. Indeed the UN recognizes the Relationship between disarmament and development.

5. Instead of the usual petitions, I would like to suggest you to express your support by becoming paid up members of the coalition and at least one of the coalition groups. This should strengthen those groups.

6. Many Young peoples have expertise that will make a valuable positive contribution to the campaign. The proposal is 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) Just saying you support the proposal – endorse the ARC Resolution– join ARC.
b) Offer of resources (human, financial, physical)
c) Writing a paper (that we can publish) of an analysis of the proposal from your perspective
d) Getting academics, experts, policy makers to write papers (that we can publish) analysing the proposal.
e) Offer to hold or help publicize events related to the proposal and ARC.
f) Informing your members of organisations you belong to of the proposal and suggesting they join the coalition.
g) Writing letters to MPs, Media etc in support of the proposal.
h) Tell ARC your concerns and offer your suggestions for changes to the proposal.
i) Suggest to people in other countries that they join the coalition or form their own national ARC groups.
j) Any positive and effective support you can think of.
k) Above all discuss it. Ask your family and friends if they think there are too many weapons in the world. Spread the word.

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.

What is The Proposal?

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 for a period of 10 to 25 years. The resources saved can be used for poverty reduction, sustainable development, conflict prevention, 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. Remember the 1980, the United Nations General Assembly resolution "Reduction of military budgets", introduced a system for the standardized reporting of military expenditures.

UN Members will be required to recommit every ten to twenty five 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% reduction over 10 to 25 years. I hope you agree that this 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 Annan’s 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. 90% of all war casualties are civilians. At a recent WTO meeting, during a short conversation, a guy told me that some of the weapons sold to Nigeria by the UK, were sold by the Nigerians to the IRA.

If you think there are too many arms, more than is needed to ensure our security. Or, If you think too many resources are being spent on weapons. Or, If you want more resources to be spent on the environment, or tackling diseases, or helping the poor, or on development, or on conflict prevention. Or if you think that the arms trade or making things to kill people is abhorrent. Or, if you want the possibility of paying less tax. Support the Arms Reduction Campaign.

The proposal is about using those resources to improve the quality of life of all the Earth’s peoples. The coalition calls for some of the savings to be spent on programmes on own state’s programmes; which conceivably could include tax reductions.

For more details visit the Campaigns section of Action For UN Renewal’s web site at : www.action-for-un-renewal.org.uk .

Let me just clarify Action For UN Renewal is an established peace group, campaigning for UN reform and a more effective UN. They are launching the Arms Reduction Coalition (ARC) which will become a separate organisation when it grows. We encourage National ARCs to be set up in UN member states around the world. ARC have devised a UN type resolution that summarizes the proposal. Individuals and organizations around the world can endorse the resolution and become members of ARC.

Let us consider Some Aspects of The Proposal

1. The proposal will not Eliminate or get rid of weapons. If the UN opt for a 1% level, 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.

The value of the world's arms trade is currently about $800 bn (Billion Dollars) per year. A one percent year on year reduction on the previous year’s expenditure would make $8bn available in the first year. Over ten years this would total $73 bn available for the improvement of humankind and preservation of our common home - Earth. During the same ten years $7,573 bn would still have been spent on things to kill people.

The value of UK’s arms trade is about 24 bn (Billion pounds) per year. Over ten years a 1% reduction would make 2.2bn be made available for the benefit of the people of the UK and the world. During the same ten years 227bn would still have been spent on instruments of death.

Note: The total net proposed programmed budget of the UN for the two years 2002 and 2003 (being discussed during the current General Assembly) is (6, 082, 959, 000) 6bn US dollars.

The Heads of State and Government and Representatives of States and Governments, assembled at the United Nations, from 25 to 27 June 2001, for the twenty-sixth special session of the General Assembly convened in accordance with resolution 55/13, as a matter of urgency, to review and address the problem of HIV/AIDS in all its aspects set
".. an overall target of annual expenditure on the epidemic of between US$ 7 billion and US$ 10 billion" ("in low and middle-income countries and those countries experiencing or at risk of experiencing rapid expansion for prevention, care, treatment, support and mitigation of the impact of HIV/AIDS, and take measures to ensure that needed resources are made available, particularly from donor countries and also from national budgets, bearing in mind that resources of the most affected countries are seriously limited");

2. The proposal 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 (Human, Financial and physical).

3. It includes small arms.
As Kofi Annan puts it "We the Peoples"
238 "The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems – and in recent years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could well be described as "weapons of mass Destruction". Yet there is still no global non-proliferation regime to limit their spread, as there is for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons."

We are disappointed that the small arms conference in July 2001 achieved so little. Its main aim was according to the UN Millennium Declaration 2000 "To take concerted action to end the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, especially by making arms transfers more transparent." They could not even achieve such limited aims.

"The U.S. should be ashamed of themselves," said South African delegate Jean Du Preez. "We are very disappointed."
A united Africa had fought for language that would bar weapons supplies to non-governments. "If you send arms to non-state actors, you are sending them to rebels who are trying to overthrow governments," Nigerian delegate Sola Ogunbanwu argued.
The United States had said it could not support any measure that would bar governments from supplying small arms to rebel groups, noting that it would not forego foreign policy options such as helping to overthrow a threatening regime. 

4. I don’t believe the proposal is perfect. 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 don’t end up with a proposal that the States of the UN cannot commit to, or does not achieve our collective aims.

5. The proposal does not go far enough to satisfy the aims of some NGO’s. It does not call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, or an end to the arms trade. These campaigns will go on.

6. The Proposal is aimed at one the Security council’s primary responsibility the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources. I have been informed by a senior UNA member that the original intention of article 26 was that the permanent 5 members of the SC with the veto would own most weapons so that they could prevent wars with deadly weapons. Instead the veto 5 have betrayed this responsibility. Instead of reducing weapons, they have used it as a means of making money, fuelling and satisfying the desire for arms. The Cold War cause much of the increase in armaments. Accumulation of arms has decreased rather than decreased the sense of security for the developing countries, and has often contributed to their economic collapse. With the end of the Cold War and the UN's success in reducing war between states, threats to national security have decreased and could be decreased further with a reduction in armaments.

Much of the debt owed by developing countries was brought about through the purchase of arms. At a recent Jubilee 2000, Drop the debt meeting we were informed that Some 30% of the loans made to the highly indebted nations is spent on arms. In some parts of Africa armed gangs are wreaking havoc, terrorizing and robbing people, raping women and spreading HIV/Aids. In some parts of Africa it is cheaper to buy a gun than chicken. Yet Africa makes few arms. (The philosophy is that everyone should have a gun to defend themselves).

The arms trade not only provides the veto 5 with economic wealth but also provides the finance to enable them to develop even more weapons. People in indebted countries will be paying interest and loans for many years to come, some of which will be used to develop 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 the 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.

some statistics... from the Millennium Peace Fund Web site

Sources: BBC & Janes Defence Weekly; BASIC; Saferworld; The New York Times/Geoff Gates; Conscience; Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers
4 million civilians have been killed in armed conflict since 1990 alone
1 jet fighter sold from a developed to a developing country would pay for the education of 3 million children in that country for a year
30 wars are raging around the world as you read this
UK defense budget approximately 23bn - 10% of taxation p/a
50% Oxfam's work is with people affected by conflict
200 million people have been killed in war and violent conflict in the 20th century - the bloodiest in history
One cruise missile = $800,000
Russia, USA, France, UK and China possess more than 30.000 nuclear weapons between them. 13,000 are still on hair trigger alert.
187 countries are signed up to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
USA has spent $120bn (1957-99) on national missile defense without fielding a single effective system
One B2 bomber costs $2.2bn to manufacture
50% of all UK government R & D funding is tied to military projects

Let us consider some Likely Opposition

1. Veto 5. Its Against established 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 of funds for some of their leadership through embezzlement and skimming.

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 1800’s 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 family’s 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. Another implication is that the only decent work the government can invest in is making and trading in weapons to kill people.

5. Loss of Jobs in the UK. The UK military has been cut back spending by more than is proposed in recent years. This won’t 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.

The preamble of constitution of UNESCO, states
"That the great and terrible war which has now ended was a war made possible by the denial of the democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men, and by the propagation, in their place, through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the inequality of men and races;"

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"

To quote ACTUN’s Vice Chair VIJAY MEHTA "It is for profit, greed, world domination, and control of land space and other resources. It is about protecting interests and investments of the big corporations and powerful governments. It is about creating tensions, upsetting the balance of power among different countries."

And some Likely Difficulties

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. The proposal involves money. Yes, you guessed it, one major problem may be squabbling over money. Squabbling over the allocation of diverted resources. The legally binding instrument could specify how amounts diverted from armaments to be used (e.g. 50% in State’s own programmes, 5% on admin / auditing, % for poverty reduction, % that General assembly allocates each year).

The proposal is UN based. But like Kofi Annan’s We the Peoples it calls for a UN "that gives full opportunities to non-governmental organizations and other non state actors to make their contributions" in implementation, compliance and allocation of resources.

4. Changing the policy makers mindset. We are living in the International decade for a culture of peace and non-violence. The preamble of constitution of UNESCO, states
"That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed."

5. Getting it on the UN agenda (e.g. the stalled the UN Disarmament Conference)

6. Politicking, devices, legal instruments, technicalities, misinformation and general chicanery.

7. 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.

8. "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 passed many treaties, conventions and resolutions to date; but few have been 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.

9. Some of the peace groups / people may be Campaign weary?
"Be patient my brothers, 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 heads up high. Happy are those whose greatest desire is" peace.

10. Things we cannot think of.

Just a quick mention of some of the Benefits

1. Recall the Reasons why Young peoples should support the coalition at the beginning of my talk.

2. Arms reduction is Essential to peace and prosperity.

3. The campaign should make people more aware of peace and UN issues.

4. Greater participation.

5. Preserving the earth’s resources.

6. Saving Lives, reducing poverty.

7. Finance for UN programmes.

8. Things we cannot think of.

In Summary

Divert resources from arms to positive humanitarian and Earthism programmes such as poverty reduction, sustainable development, protecting the vulnerable, conflict prevention, peaceful resolution of conflict systems, maintaining the environment.

That is what the Charter of the United Nations calls for. Some 189 states have signed up to the charter. It is full time they live up to their commitments and responsibility to ensure the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources. They will only live up to this commitment when their peoples beseech them to do so.

The proposal calls for a 1% to 5% reduction over 10 to 25 years of the resources being spent by the states of the UN on things to kill people. I hope you agree that is reasonable.

Please support and take on this proposal, join ARC, and let we the peoples start upon a new direction of peace and better usage of our Earth’s extremely precious resources.

Just Imagine ….