V0.1 21 Jul 2001

Background to the ‘Implement Article 26’ Proposal

Proposal for a UN Convention / Protocol on Implementing Article 26 of the UN Charter Regarding Reducing "diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources" by a set percentage per year.


The proposal was formulated by a member of Action For UN Renewal (ACTUN) and the United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UNA). The seeds of the idea germinated from an informative and inspiring talk on the Culture of Peace at a local UNA branch’s Annual General Meeting. During the discussion some one noted the difficulty in achieving a Culture of Peace given the fact that most weapons are made and sold by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security council. Article 24 (Functions and Powers) of the UN charter states "In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf". One member expressed concerns about disarmament; stating that he would be in favor of reducing the amount of weapons but not of total disarmament.


The formulator attended the Lobby for a renewed United Nations for peace, human rights & development, 6 December, 2000 (organized by ACTUN and a coalition of groups in the UK). The formulator wrote the letter below expressing his concerns and sent them to his MP as part of the Lobby. One phrase that stuck was the "amount of human effort expended things to kill people". Later while browsing through the UN Charter he happened upon Article 26 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, …. , plans to be submitted to the Members of the United Nations for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments".

This prompted him to draft the proposal on 27 April 2001. The estimate of $800 billion dollars per year spent on arms was later provided by a veteran peace campaigner. The proposal was submitted to ACTUN who agreed to pursue it. The proposal is in its third draft; many of the changes coming from some of the comments recieved.


The proposal has been put out for general discussion. Support, comments and input for you and all interested parties are welcomed so that the proposal can be evaluated, analysed, debated and refined so that a consensus can be reached before submission to the United Nations General Assembly.

We are seeking to form a broad coalition with UN focused / humanitarian groups and individuals to take the proposal forward. We are asking for your support. This could take the form of:
* Just saying you support the proposal - email or write to ACTUN.
* Writing letters to MPs, Media etc in support of the proposal.
* Joining some of the organizations that support the proposal or other UN focused NGOs such as the ACTUN Lobby Coalition organizations.
* A policy statement supporting the proposal from your organizations.
* Offer of resources (human, financial, physical).
* Writing a paper (that we can publish) of an analysis of the proposal from your perspective.
* Getting academics, experts, policy makers, interested parties, etc. to write papers (that we can publish) analysing the proposal.
* Tells us your concerns and offer your suggestions for changes to the proposal.
* Offer to help publicize events related to the proposal.
* Informing members of any organizations you belong to of the proposal.
* 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 meetings in future to which we will invite you if you so wish.
We are hoping to officially launch the campaign in the Autumn of 2001.

Appendix - A Lobby Letter

My concern in attending this lobby is about the effectiveness of the UN and its agencies in fulfilling their tasks.

Several UNA members who remember the formation of the UN have related to me their high hopes and optimism that the UN would indeed save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and achieve the goals set out in the Preamble to the United Nations Charter. Many express disappointment that there have been so many conflicts and deaths during the last 50 years. Yet they all remain steadfast in their belief that the UN remains the world’s best hope for peace. We all want a United Nations that can deliver its Charter promises for all the world's people.

The UN Security Council has been given one of the most difficult tasks – that of preventing war and maintaining the peace. Although it has had many major and significant successes I believe it could do better.

I recognize that I am no expert and those in the UN know better; yet I suggest the following that I hope may help to encourage and improve the effectiveness of The UN and UN Security Council in achieving it’s very difficult task:

1 Define metrics by which their effectiveness in achieving their goals can be measured.

2 Publish regular targets to be achieved (e.g. number of conflicts – inter and intra countries, number of deaths, refugees etc, number of small arms, amount of arms sold to countries / groups that don’t make them, amount of human effort expended things to kill people ).

3 Reform its systems with the aim of becoming more effective. (e.g. composition, size voting systems perhaps trying new systems for a period of say 5 years with built in options to revert back if they are not effective).

4 Place emphasis on conflict prevention. (i.e. Training state agencies like police and army in peaceful resolution of conflicts; bring to book / account leaders in regions where the metrics indicate there is a high risk of conflict before the conflict escalates into mass killing – encouraging high risk groups to take appropriate preventative actions).

5 Implement systems that break the recurring cycles and patterns of conflict (e.g. build up of weapons, non-democratic regimes, corruption, repression, entrenched ideological positions, share of scarce resources). Try different strategies in different situations to find ones that are most successful.

6 Be more responsive to the will of the UN General Assembly – maybe deferring some decisions to the UN General assembly.

7 Provide more information / comfort that they are doing all that is humanly possible in carrying out their responsibilities. Make greater use of the diverse knowledge, culture and will of its members and the world’s peoples to maintain the peace.

8 Ensure resources are available to effectively implement what is required ( rather than good intentioned rhetoric / resolutions).

9 Move away from the might is right ethos towards one of shared values and ethics.

10 Emphasize it’s successes more; so that the UN is not synonymous with Conflict.

It will be very sad for humanity; if in future historians look back on this period and conclude that the UN failed in its fundamental / primary tasks because the founders and reformers of the UN were naive or mistaken in the belief and hopes that such tasks were achievable due to the intrinsic shortcomings of the members of the Security Council (e.g. self interests, ideological differences, politics, they being the makers of most of the weapons in the world, their need to maintain power and control).

The UN is charged with the very difficult task of making the Impossible possible (like Doctors tending the sick) – that of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The well being of all is dependent on their success. I believe that despite the inherent difficulties, cynics, politicking and bad experiences of the past; the UN can be more successful in achieving peace in the future.