The United Nations World Disarmament Campaign

By Martenson, Jan | UNESCO Courier, August 1986 | Go to article overview

The United Nations World Disarmament Campaign


Martenson, Jan, UNESCO Courier


The United Nations World Disarmament Campaign

THE World Disarmament Campaign to inform, to educate and to generate public understanding and support for the objectives of the United Nations in the field of arms limitation and disarmament represents a unique aspect of the role of the United Nations. As an international organization consisting of sovereign States, the United Nations essentially deals with member governments. In deciding to launch a world disarmament campaign, these member governments have provided the United Nations with an instrument of communication with the public at large.

The Campaign was launched, by consensus, in June 198i at the Twelfth Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament. By the time it was initiated, the process of negotiating disarmament had acquired a great complexity with regard to the issues under consideration, the results attained, and the status of agreements actually arrived at. At the same time, there was a growing public debate over the causes and consequences of a continuing arms race and the problems and prospects of disarmament, particularly of nuclear disarmament. While the themes highlighted in this debate continued to bear the imprint of regional and local concerns, there was also an increasing trend towards greater international interaction, a process facilitated by the availability of modern means of communication which permit wide public participation.

United Nations objectives in the field of arms limitation and disarmament underline commonly shared goals which transcend national, geographical and political differences. As evolved in response to the changing international situation, these objectives could be attained through a lowering of the present levels of military build-ups in a balanced and verifiable manner and in accordance with the need for undiminished security for all States, large and small. Also, in a world of increasing interdependence, not only States but issues are becoming interlinked. As such, the themes supported by the World Disarmament Campaign are those which emphasize our common human destiny. The most comprehensive statement of United Nations objectives in this field is given in the unanimously adopted Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament: "while the efforts of all States should continue to be general and complete disarmament under effective international control, the immediate goal is that of the elimination of the danger of nuclear war and the implementation of measures to halt and reverse the arms race and clear the path towards lasting peace."

These issues have been the subject of considerable public interest in all regions of the world. In providing objective, factual and balanced information pertaining to these questions, the Campaign primarily relies upon the priorities and measures set out in the Final Document; the decisions taken at the Twelfth Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament; the views expressed by Member States; the recommendations in the declaration of the 1980s as the Second Disarmament Decade; and the unanimous conclusions of the various expert groups nominated by the Secretary-General to study specific aspects of arms limitation and disarmament. Within this broad framework, the Campaign places emphasis on the interaction between the issues of disarmament and international security as well as disarmament and development.

In order to reach the largest number of people in all parts of the word, a constituency-related approach is required. Such constituencies lead to a multiplier effect in educating, informing and generating public understanding and support for the objectives of the United Nations in the field of arms limitation and disarmament, where the issues involved are often complex and need to be explained in an easily comprehensible manner.

Elected representatives, media, non-governmental organizations, educational communities and research institutes from different political and geographical backgrounds are thus the primary constituencies of the World Disarmament Campaign, which encourages bilateral and multilateral exchanges, interpersonal communications, and gives the widest possible dissemination to contacts, for example, between government officials, experts, academics, non-governmental organizations and journalists. …

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The United Nations World Disarmament Campaign
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