International Commitment to Reallocate Military Expenditures for Development Reaffirmed

UN Chronicle, November 1987 | Go to article overview

International Commitment to Reallocate Military Expenditures for Development Reaffirmed


International commitment to reallocate military expenditures for development reaffirmed

Overarmament and underdevelopment viewed as threats to security

THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development, held in New York from 24 August to 11 September, adopted by consensus its Final Document reaffirming the international commitment to allocate a portion of the resources released through disarmament for socio-economic development, so as to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries.

The States participating in the Conference agreed to consider the adoption of measures to reduce the level and magnitude of military expenditures; the utilization of existing regional and international institutions for the reallocation of resources released through disarmament for socio-economic development, particularly in developing countries; and to accord priority to the allocation, through the United Nations, of part of such resources for emergency humanitarian relief operations and critical development problems.

The Final Document recommends an action programme to foster an interrelated perspective on disarmament, development and security; to promote multilateralism in those fields; and to strengthen the central role of the United Nations in the interrelated fields of disarmament and development.

Natwar Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs of India and President of the Conference, said the international community had, by an overwhelming majority, agreed that there existed a close and multidimensional relationship between disarmament and development. The Conference had struck "the right blow, for the right reason, at the right time, and in the right forum'. The United Nations needed such an outcome.

The Final Document, he went on, underlined the far-reaching implications of the global arms race for the world economy and for international economic relations. There were now available an array of forceful arguments, based on economic considerations, in addition to the one of ensuring human survival. If the Conference had helped in bringing home those arguments to policy-makers in Governments all over the world, it would have served its purpose eminently.

He said the adoption of the Document by consensus was yet another step in the direction of arresting the retreat of multilateralism that had been witnessed in recent years. It appeared that there was fairly widespread concern that the attacks on multilateralism had been counter-productive and that there was a common desire to put the concept of multilateralism back on the pedestal it deserved to be on.

In 1984, following a proposal by President Francois Mitterrand of France, the General Assembly decided to convene the international conference on disarmament and development. Its mandate was "to review the relationship between disarmament and development in all its aspects and dimensions' and to examine the implications for the world economy of the level and magnitude of military expenditures, in particular those of nuclear-weapon States and other militarily important States, and to recommend remedial actions. In addition, the Conference was mandated to consider ways and means of releasing additional resources, through disarmament measures, for development purposes, particularly in developing countries.

Currents and cross-currents

In an opening address, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said the Conference provided the first occasion at which the relationship and interactions between disarmament and development would be examined by representatives of Member States, conscious of all the currents and cross-currents of international affairs. If its deliberations brought clarity where there was much confusion and if the result could be better mutual understanding, then the international community might be on the way towards regaining that sense of human priorities which, in the final analysis, was the prime motive force of both disarmament and development. …

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