Magazine article UN Chronicle

'Fewer Weapons and More Development in All Regions': Eminent Panel Recommends Steps to Link Disarmament and Development

Magazine article UN Chronicle

'Fewer Weapons and More Development in All Regions': Eminent Panel Recommends Steps to Link Disarmament and Development

Article excerpt

"Fewer weapons and more development in all regions': Eminent Panel recommends steps to link disarmament and development

So begins the Declaration adopted by the 14-member Panel of Eminent Personalities on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development, convened at the General Assembly's request (resolution 40/155) to draft a joint statement that could serve as a point of reference at the International Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development.

The 29-paragraph Declaration sets out a series of measures to move "nearer [the] goal of a world with fewer weapons and more development in all regions'.

The Panel convened (New York, 16-18 April) to discuss the main issues relating to disarmament and development. Its members (see below) were appointed by Jan Martenson, Secretary-General of the Conference and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs.

Drawn from all regions of the world, they espoused a broad range of views. But despite their differences, which reflected the divergence of opinions that persists on issues relating individually to disarmament and to development, the "Eminent Personalities' agreed that the emphasis now should be on the link between the two.

"Disarmament and development, each indispensable in its own right, become even more worthwhile when seen as mutually reinforcing', they affirmed.

"Relating disarmament to development in a meamngful way constitutes a major intellectual, moral and political challenge of our age', Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar told Panel members on 18 April. "It is . . . a moral affront that well over two thirds of the world's population continues to subsist on less than one third of the world's resources. The supreme challenge for policy-makers is to conceive and pursue policies which respond to the equally urgent demands of national security, human welfare and international interdependence.'

Introducing the joint Declaration, Panel Moderator Inga Thorsson, Sweden's former Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, warned that harsh economic conditions, hunger and political instability were "natural allies'. She said the Panel hoped the Declaration would lead "enlightened people' everywhere to urge their Governments to take appropriate action.


Affirming that "peace is more than the absence of war', the Panel, in its Declaration (A/CONF.130/PC/INF/17), notes that in a world of increasing interdependence, global geo-politics are being reshaped in a way that defines security as much in economic as in military terms. "The time has come', the text states, "to take into account the existence of an array of non-military threats to security in such forms as sharply diminished prospects for economic growth and social development, large-scale unemployment, resource scarcity, threats to food security, and severe environmental degradation'.

Development should not "run the risk of becoming one of the casualties of a continuing arms race', the Panel affirms. As development helps to overcome non-military threats to national security, it can also contribute to a more secure world. In that sense, the relationship between disarmament and development may be seen as a two-way street, the Declaration says.

National and international efforts to promote development should neither be postponed nor allowed to lag because of slow progress in disarmament, the Panel stresses. "While disarmament and development are parallel and distinct processes', the Declaration states, "there is a strong case to relate them to the broader implications of security'.

Each country should make "appropriate security interests' the criterion of its arms expenditure, according to the Declaration. Any State not applying that standard not only curtails its own development but also forces other countries to allocate additional resources to defence, the Panel says. …

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