Ban calls for diverting weapons budgets to economic development

General Assembly in session

19 April 2010 – The General Assembly today held a day-long debate on disarmament with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling on the world to reverse its spending on weapons as compared with development.

“The world is over-armed, and development is under-funded,” he told the 192-member Assembly at the start of the thematic debate on disarmament and world security, and both the role of the United Nations and challenges for the international community. “Spending on weapons worldwide is now well above $1 trillion a year – and rising.

“These priorities should be reversed. By accelerating disarmament, we can liberate the resources we need to combat climate change, address food insecurity and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he added, referring to the ambitious targets set by the UN Summit of 2000 to slash a host of social ills by 2015, including extreme hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality and lack of access to education and health care.

Mr. Ban cited several encouraging trends, including last week’s Washington summit on nuclear security and the signing earlier this month by Russia and the United States of a nuclear weapons reduction treaty, stressing “now is the moment to build on that momentum.”

But he also underscored the need to tackle both weapons of mass destruction and the regulation of conventional armaments. “Small arms in the wrong hands destroy lives and livelihoods, impede peace efforts, hinder humanitarian aid, facilitate the illicit trade in narcotics and obstruct investment and development,” he said.

“I encourage the General Assembly to continue to strengthen the implementation of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and make progress towards an Arms Trade Treaty,” he added, referring to initiatives to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit trade in by focusing on practical solutions, such as collecting and destroying illegal weapons, strengthening import and export controls and improving the security and safety of weapons storage facilities.

General Assembly President Ali Treki also cited the recent momentum, calling for a successful outcome at next month’s five-yearly review conference of the 40-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) concrete steps towards the prompt entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

He stressed the need to deal with possible threats from the proliferation of chemical and biological materials.

“It is also fundamental for the international community to seriously address the production, use, export and import of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons,” he said.

“If on the one hand, nuclear weapons have only been used once in the history of mankind, indeed with catastrophic effects, on the other hand, conventional weapons fuel conflicts every day around the world and constantly threaten international peace and security. Moreover, the imbalance in conventional weapons capabilities leads to threat perceptions and arms races, which in turn imperil regional and international peace and security.”


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