Letter to Religious Groups

Spring 2004

Faithful Friends,

As one surveys the world today we see the value of Life ignored and taken for granted in some places, whilst desperately fought for in others. In affluent countries, curiously alienating standards of comfort and accomplishment stand in stark contrast to a daily struggle for survival by millions in less affluent countries.

Amidst this indignation the rich and poor alike, gather what resources they can to fortify their national defences, or at worst wipe out the existence of others ignominiously labelled the ‘enemy’.

Global arms spending for 2002 is estimated by some quarters to have been increased from $ 850 billion to $1 trillion in 2003! With the ensuing conflict in Iraq exacting more and more resources than expected, the extent of our investment in shortening Life (in a world where 3 billion of us survive on less than a dollar $2 a day) begs the question; where will this insanity lead?

International treaties, resolutions and agreements abound with solemn declarations of the futility of war and its inestimable damage. Yet leaders come and go promising much and delivering little.

Profoundly we as a race have innumerable laws and codes for healthy human conduct, yet no prompt contained within national or international legislation succeeds in removing the lure of weapons from the minds of those in power.

So can legislation alone arouse in man that will to protect and provide the 'right to life’ as it is and might be? For some gradual shift in his awareness of himself and his relation to others cannot be forced upon him by letter of law alone. Those acts and sentiments that define and guide our common humanity cannot simply be embodied in institutional law to become active. We would have destroyed ourselves a long time ago if we relied on such a structure of order.  More likely it is that we know Life to be that unique value which is spoken in all languages and misunderstood in none.

 When considering the many terms of difference and distance-maintaining identities we adopt-which go a long way to ranging man against man, it is clear that there are few things that weave the manyfaceted threads of men into the fabric of humanity more than Life and our mutual responsibility for its protection and flourishing.

At present just 1/20th of global arms spending ($50 billion) would be sufficient to meet the millennium development goals. It is clear that the power of Life to produce and sustain man is daily threatened while mans self-humiliation is encouraged and even welcomed by such shortsighted investment in violence.

As things now stand mans’ appetite for war and the tools of conflict must be gradually lessened if the creation of a culture of peace is to have any credible meaning.

We as the Arms Reduction-Coalition are pushing for the UN member states to acknowledge, table and ratify a new UN Treaty designed to stem the vast amounts of wealth spent on arms annually. The treaty will bind the ratifying states to redirect 1-5% a year of all national arms expenditure towards humanitarian and non-military purposes.

The treaty would be based on and finally implement article 26 of the United Nations charter: "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."

In order to achieve this we are seeking to work with all interested parties governmental, non-governmental, civil society and particularly groups already working on the issue of conflict resolution and arms-reduction.

To this end we would welcome you to support our campaign by endorsing the ARC Resolution and/or becoming an ARC member. We would also urge you to take up this theme of upholding the UN charter with HM's Government at the soonest possible moment.

We also invite you to come and talk on the challenge of the reduction of arms at an ARC meeting in the future.

Olaf Palme the ex-Swedish premier said: " It is very unlikely that disarmament will ever take place if it must wait for the initiatives of governments and experts. It will only come about as the expression of the political will of the people in many parts of the world." Indeed the blueprint for the New World is available in the co-operation and goodwill of the ordinary people of the world. Those in power would do well to keep in time with this global pulse, as it was evident on the 15th Feb 2003 that governments might make policy but it is the people who will make history.

Yours Faithfully,

Fidel Asante

ARC UN/NGO Liaison Officer