Disarmament Week: October 24 to 30
Every year the United Nations organises this week to coincide with the anniversary of its founding. The aim is to raise awareness among all of the UN’s member states of the danger posed by the arms race, to propagate the need to put an end to it and to foster a better public understanding of the urgent task of disarmament.
Every year the United Nations celebrates the anniversary of its founding during this week. The main goals of Disarmament Week revolve around raising awareness among all of the UN’s member states of the danger posed by the arms race (whether conventional or nuclear armament), propagating the need to put an end to the arms race and fostering a better public understanding of the urgent task of disarmament. It also encourages the reallocation of the economic resources used for arms race to favour economic and social development.
Securing peace and safeguarding international security is the responsibility of all States through their firm commitment to reducing and subsequently eradicating the main threat to our planet, weapons of mass destructions, more commonly known as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
The week must be seized upon to adopt political strategies for disarmament and one of these is to invite all of the countries to take part actively through alliances in order to foster a true understanding of the problems related to disarmament, given that over history the arms race has caused huge human loss and great economic waste. The aim is to put an end to war as the way to resolve conflict and to eliminate the use of military force and threat at an international, national and regional level.
However, the disarmament promoted by the United Nations faces some superlative contradictions: the five countries with the right to veto in the Security Council (the USA, Russia, China, France and the UK), own 90 % of the world’s nuclear arsenal and are the world’s main producers and vendors of weapons of all kinds.
* In 2008, sixteen major armed conflicts were maintained in fifteen places around the world: Africa: Burundi, Somalia, Sudan • America: Columbia, Peru, USA • Asia: Afghanistan, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Philippines (Mindanao), Sri Lanka. • Middle East: Israel, Iraq, Turkey
* The main military expenditure budgets in 2008 (in billions of $ – % of the world total armament expenditure): USA 607 – 41.5% / RUSSIA 58.6 – 4% / FRANCE 65.7 – 4.5% / UK 65.7 – 4.5% / CHINA 84.9 – 5.8% / GERMANY 46.8 – 3.2% / JAPAN 46.3 – 3.2% / ITALY 40.6 – 2.8% / SAUDI ARABIA 38.2 – 2.6% / INDIA 30.0 – 2.1%
* The total world expenditure on armament in 2008 is estimated at 1,226 billion dollars. From 1999 to 2008 expenditure increased by 45 %.
* Strategic and non-strategic nuclear warheads deployed around the world (year 2009): 8,392 total USA: 2,702 / RUSSIA: 4,834 / UK: 160 / FRANCE: 300 / CHINA: 186 / INDIA: 60 to 70 / PAKISTAN: 60 / ISRAEL, 80 /
According to Rafael de la Rubia, International Coordinator for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, “this year we have experienced the biggest economic crisis in history and still investment in armament worldwide has continued to increase. The military industry is the worst cancer that afflicts the world”.
Indeed, despite the most far-reaching, severe and long-lived crisis in history, weapons expenditure and provisioning continues to grow in 2009 despite the multiple treaties in force for the control and non-proliferation of nuclear and conventional weapons and conventions of all kinds on human rights, alliances of the civilisations etc.
An enormous business revolves around armament. To date, this lobby has managed to construct and generate a system capable of organising impossible wars, facilitating military encroachments and invasions of territories, sowing fear and distrust of the West among Eastern cultures and religions and creating ‘terrible, evil and cruel’ enemies using ferocious propaganda campaigns. All of this has been done to maintain the spectacular business of the military industry.
There is room for everyone in the armament business. Every country in the world allocates their biggest budgets (heedless to the fact that it is public money they are spending) on defence expenditure. Nobody escapes the arms spiral. It is not just Europe, the USA, China and India that allocate the most resources for security and defence; the impoverished and devastated countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia also allot more to these investments than they do to fighting hunger and poverty or to alleviating the serious problems of access to healthcare and education.
Many experts maintain that for the wars and tensions between territories the economic crisis provides the ideal climate for warmongering. It would be positive for our future evolution if, at this historic time, this terrible marriage between recession and war was broken.
We must hope that the 2009 Disarmament Week has the desired effect of raising awareness among leaders because, among the people of the world, the seeds of peace and nonviolence have already been sown.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent international institute for research who works on problems of peace and conflict, in particular arms control and disarmament. It was founded in 1966 to commemorate 150 years of uninterrupted peace in Sweden.
*(Translated by [Simon Bruni](http://www.simonbruni.com))*