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THE EVOLVING ROLE OF THE UN AND DISARMAMENTPanel discussion at the United Nations, October 23, 1997, U.N. headquarters.
- Evgeniy Gorkovskiy, U.N. Centre for Disarmament Affairs;
Richard Butler, U.N. Special Commission on Iraq;
Randall Forsberg, Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies
ANN HALLAN LAKHDHIR, NGO Committee on Disarmament, chairing:
Evgeniy Gorkovskiy is the Deputy Director of the UN Centre for Disarmament Affairs. He began working in the UN 30 years ago. Between 1971 and 1990 he was in the Foreign Ministry of the USSR. He was particularly involved, from 1980 to 1990, as the Executive Secretary of the Standing Consultative Commission in Geneva, dealing with the verification and control problems of strategic weapons, the ABM Treaty and other nuclear issues. Since 1990 he has been at the UN. He has been of great help to NGOs in the disarmament area at the UN, as has his staff, especially Michael Cassandra and Pamela Hague.
EVGENIY GORKOVSKIY: ...I am honored to be present today in the discussions on the evolving role of the United Nations and Disarmament. As a person who has spent the largest part of my active career in the disarmament area on the bilateral and multilateral levels, I am really happy to see today the fruits of our efforts, the efforts of those who support disarmament, who believe that disarmament, under certain conditions, strengthens the security of all much better than mountains of new weapons. But I wouldn't like to sound too optimistic. Disarmament experts are never too optimistic or too pessimistic. They are pragmatic realists, because they realize that the disarmament area is very complex and sensitive. Disarmament directly effects international, regional and national security. Every nation, small or large, has its legitimate national security concerns that cannot be denied. These concerns can be mutually accommodated by the international community through negotiations in the form of legally binding international instruments: conventions, treaties, agreements.
In the last two years we have been witnessing this positive process with major achievements in the disarmament area. I will cite some of the achievements. At the multilateral level, we have seen the conclusion of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT), the conclusion of the CTBT, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the expansion of nuclear-weapon-free zones, and lastly, the Ottawa process to ban anti-personnel landmines. Some of these treaties cost some people the greater part of their active life. It took 30 years to conclude the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and it took almost 20 years to conclude the Chemical Weapons Convention.
At the bilateral level, we see that the agreements between Russia and the United States on the reduction of strategic nuclear weapons will cut their arsenals by 80 percent. The US and Russia are not targeting each other any more with nuclear weapons, thus reducing the risk that unauthorized, accidental or erroneous use of nuclear weapons might happen. These are landmarks that nobody should disregard. But we want more.
Disarmament has always had a unique position in the United Nations. The first resolution adopted in January 1946 by the UN General Assembly called for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The end of the Cold War has opened new opportunities in the field of disarmament for the UN as well. The UN played a significant role in the achievements I have mentioned by monitoring, analyzing, promoting, training, educating and assisting Member States. We provided professional expertise, technical and substantive services to Member States, helping them to find consensus. The moral authority of the United Nations helps to convince those who are hesitant, and those who are suspicious.
I can give you the latest examples. Dedicated personal efforts by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in March-April this year, his personal appeals to the Heads of State and governments played the key role in ensuring that the Chemical Weapons Convention has entered into force on time. The UN's vigorous support for an anti-personnel landmines ban was instrumental in moving the Ottawa Process to a successful conclusion. The UN is not a neutral observer. The UN is an active and professional participant in the disarmament process.
The elimination of weapons of mass destruction was always the priority on the agenda of the United Nations, and it continues to be of primary importance for us. Two categories out of three of the weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons, are banned. As the discussion of the present session of the General Assembly indicates, the great majority of countries consider that the time is now to pursue nuclear disarmament more vigorously, with a view to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons at the earliest possible date. There are also new, pressing needs for the international community to deal more systematically with the risk of nuclear weapons and radioactive materials falling into the hands of terrorists. This is a real problem.
At the same time, the violent realities of recent years remind us that conventional disarmament is also essential. The plague of small arms and light weapons has carried away hundreds of thousands of lives in recent years. And I will be frank: those who insist on "only nuclear disarmament now or nothing" undermine progress in the disarmament area. We have to be realistic, despite our personal feelings. Every lost year means new victims of conflicts, and less security for all of us. The UN should not be prevented from helping those who want to stop the proliferation of conventional weapons.
The recent initiatives taken by countries in West Africa towards declaring a moratorium on the export, import and production of light weapons and small arms is a constructive measure that should be supported. Sooner or later, we will have to find ways to lessen the intense international competition to export conventional weapons, including to the conflict areas in which the UN is trying to promote peace.
The UN should also be able to support new tasks, to meet new challenges and new opportunities. In the recent report of the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, the Secretary-General of the UN said, "Readily-available and easy-to-use small arms and light weapons have been the primary assault weapons of violence in almost every recent conflict dealt with by the United Nations. The absence of norms governing light weapons and small arms is a mounting concern."
To address existing priorities, and new challenges, the Secretary-General proposed the creation of a new Department of Disarmament Affairs. This proposal is being considered by the present session of the General Assembly.
The new century and millennium are upon us. What is the future of disarmament? We hope that these discussions will help all of us in search of finding the answer. The General Assembly, in its resolution of 51/45 of 10 December 1996, decided to convene its fourth special session devoted to disarmament, subject to the emergence of a consensus on its objectives and agenda. Member States are searching for this consensus and we are trying to help them. The resolution states: "The special session could set the future course of action in the field of disarmament, arms control, and related security matters."
And while the Member States are searching for the principal consensus, our task is to consolidate the achievements in the field of disarmament, to make them irreversible, to identify and prepare new issues for future negotiations, and to make further practical steps in disarmament when appropriate, even by very small steps. All of us learned a lesson during the campaign to ban anti-personnel landmines. World public opinion and the UN could make the difference.
ANN HALLAN LAKHDHIR: Richard Butler was lauded last night several times when he received the Pomerance Award. Ambassador Juan Somavia of Chile called him "A rare gem at the UN." Bill Epstein quoted Ambassador Rolf Ekeus of Sweden as saying, "He was a political wunderkind." I fully agree with both of them that he is one of the Ambassadors at the UN who has made a big impact. He played a critical role in getting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly. And was the convenor of the Canberra Commission report on the elimination of nuclear weapons.
His public service career started in 1964. He was Australia's Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament from 1983 until 1988. Then he was Australia's Ambassador to Thailand, and simultaneously the Ambassador to the Supreme National Council of Cambodia, so he had a good deal of experience in one of the areas that remains a conflict area today. He was Australia's Ambassador to the UN from 1992 until 1997 and chaired the Preparatory Committee for the UN's 50th anniversary. In July 1997 he became the Executive Chairman of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) set up to verify Iraq's elimination of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles.
AMBASSADOR RICHARD BUTLER: I propose to take seriously the subject, the evolving role of the UN and disarmament...The Charter of the UN did envisage disarmament. I do not think it mentioned it strongly enough, but there is an awareness in the Charter that if we are to do the things that motivated the founding fathers -- not enough mothers, I'm afraid -- but the founding people in San Francisco, the main thing that motivated them was to prevent the scourge of war from recurring. There is an awareness in the Charter that one of the ways that needs to be done is through disarmament. I do not think the Charter's reference to the need to develop "proposals for the regulation of armaments" is strong enough. The Security Council and the Military Staff Committee are supposed to put together proposals for the regulation of armaments. I don't think those references in the Charter are, in and of themselves, strong enough. But nevertheless, I would argue that there is a recognition in the Charter that the fundamental purpose of the new international organization to maintain international peace and security, to prevent the scourge of war, could be well served by the regulation of armaments.
In addition, having said the language is not strong enough, I would make large of the fact that the Charter does insist upon the peaceful settlement of disputes. There is the clue to what we have seen happen subsequently with respect to disarmament, and what we must see happen further in the future. The Charter's reference to the peaceful settlement of disputes is absolute. It assumes that there will be disputes in human society. I think it is very important that we recognize that. Human beings will not always agree what is to be done, what is right or wrong, and indeed, who owns what, whether ownership is of territory, or resources, or rivers or goods and services. There will always be arguments within the human family. I think it is important that we remember that is inevitably the case.
The absolute injunction of the Charter says that when you have your arguments, you must settle them peacefully. Our common enemy is war, and the settlement of disputes peacefully, it seems to me, gets to the very heart of what we who are devoted to disarmament -- and I am proud to be devoted to disarmament -- are about. It is this: we recognize that yes, there will be arguments within the human family, but we utterly insist that none of those arguments will be more easily or better solved if someone puts a gun on the table. The instant that that happens, that argument becomes a fight. That difference of opinion, that conflict of interest, whether it is about land or territory or goods and services, contracts, whatever, will be transformed from a dispute within the human family, where there can be differences of opinion, into a fight. Blood will be shed, murder will take place.
That is the inevitable consequence of someone saying, I am sick of this discussion, I want to settle it this way, and putting a gun on the table. That is what disarmament is about -- the peaceful settlement of disputes, and is about the depth of the conviction that we all have that nothing will be made easier when you introduce a gun or a weapon into the situation.
Weak though the references to disarmament in the Charter were, I would insist that those references, together with the Charter's absolute injunction that disputes must be settled peacefully, means that part of the business of living in the age of the United Nations must be the evolution and continual development of disarmament.
How has the UN done in that evolution? I think better recently than it did initially. In the period of the Cold War, things were far slower than they should have been, with one fantastic and notable exception; namely, in 1954 the conference on the statute of an International Atomic Energy Agency, which led to the creation of that agency in 1956.
The UN's role as it has evolved has had three main parts. One is the development of law, mainly through treaties regulating or eliminating arms. Secondly, the provision of verification of the obligations established in that law, and thirdly, the tough business, when that law is not observed, of enforcing it.
That, in particular, is the business of the Security Council. The Security Council will adopt a resolution today on the disarmament of Iraq. The first line of the operative part of the resolution will say, "Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter." Everything in Chapter VII is about enforcement. Then the measures will be spelled out. That is the third part of the UN's role in disarmament. One, to make the law; two, to verify the keeping of its obligations and three, when they are not kept, to enforce the law.
How is it done? In practical terms, I have already mentioned the IAEA, to which we should now add the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons in the Hague, the Organization in Vienna on a Test Ban Treaty, and may I say, my organization, the United Nations Special Commission. The laws involved that have given rise to these structures have been the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the various laws and resolutions of the Security Council with respect to elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Then there are other laws in the corpus of UN disarmament law that do not have a particular organizational outcome, such as the IAEA with respect to NPT. There are laws such as the Biological Weapons Convention, the Seabed Treaty, the various agreements with respect to zones free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, and of course, most recently, the landmines treaty.
I have probably left out some relevant laws or treaties. The CTBT I did not mention. This corpus of law, of which I mentioned the big ones -- there are other bits as well -- constitute an outstanding record. It has been slow in some ways. It is a frustrating business. It has been a bit slower than we would have wanted it to be, but, in the past decade, as we got toward the end of and out of the Cold War period, the amount of law-making has been very impressive.
We now have on our statue books -- this is the main point I want to make -- the response of the UN, in hard codified law, to some of the major weapons problems that the second half of the 20th century has faced, regarding nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons and soon landmines. We have made the required law, and, on the whole, it is good law.
The NPT has some problems attached to it, but I would proudly defend the NPT, and I did take part in its indefinite extension with complete intellectual and political conviction. I was saddened by some of the criticisms of that extension made by some people, that it did not meet an absolute standard. It does not. It does acknowledge the existence of some states with nuclear weapons. But I cannot imagine a world in which we did not have the norm that says no one should have nuclear weapons. That's what that treaty says. Those who don't have them should never get them, and those who do have them should get rid of them. That is the norm that says no one should have nuclear weapons. As far as preventing those who don't have them from getting them is concerned, it has had an outstanding record.
As far as those who do have nuclear weapons getting rid of them is concerned, the record has not been good enough. But I will come back to that in the last part of my remarks when we look at the future. The idea that we would not have a treaty -- that we wouldn't somewhere say that nuclear weapons should not exist, that no one should have them, to me, is unthinkable.
What I said at the beginning about the relative weakness of the language of the Charter, in respect to disarmament, is something that, in the nuclear area, I have a very particular and passionate view about. I have written about this and spoken about it many times, and I will say it to you now; the Charter of the UN was a pre-atomic age document. The first detonation was in June 1945, a few months after the Charter was more or less put to bed. The Charter came into existence in October 1945. It was basically a pre-atomic age document; therefore, logically, it couldn't have mentioned nuclear weapons in the way that it would have if it had been written one year later, in 1946.
So there was a hole in the Charter. That hole, in my view, is filled by the NPT. I see the NPT as standing alongside the Charter of the United Nations because it contains within it the thing that the Charter needed but could not have said because of just a few months difference between when the bomb was first detonated and the coming into existence of the Charter. And that is the norm that says no state should have nuclear weapons. And that is what the NPT does, and it is a piece of UN law.
Then there are chemical weapons. It took a long time, but the Chemical Weapons Convention fills the gaps that were left by the convention of 1925, with respect to chemical weapons, and creates a global system for ensuring that those horrible weapons are not made. The Biological Convention also sets the norm that biological weapons are illegal. Unfortunately it is not a particularly verifiable convention, and that needs to be fixed. That is one of the things we need to do in the future. But again, it states that those weapons are inhumane and immoral and illegal. These are the high points of UN law in this field.
Mr. Gorkovskiy mentioned conventional weapons. I think, in the future, that is an area that we need to move much further into, in particular to ensure that the business of trade in conventional weapons is better controlled, that the hideous diversion of resources for development into low-cost conventional weapons stops. The business of trading in conventional weapons, it seems to me, has been one of the chief enemies of development in the developing countries.
My verdict on UN law-making in this field is that, although it was initially slow, we have now got on the international statute books, basically, the kind of law that we need. And we have got the organizations responsible for pursuing it: IAEA for non-proliferation, the OPCW, the organization for chemical weapons in the Hague, for chemical weapons, the CTBT organization in Vienna for nuclear testing and, finally, with respect to this very special endeavor that the UN is involved in for the first time in stripping a country of its weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we have my organization, UNSCOM, which is doing a job quite unlike any that has been done before, but which I think points towards the future for the UN in verification, globally, of disarmament and arms control treaties.
Now that we have got this body of law, where do we go next? I would make a couple of main points. First of all, we must create the Department for Disarmament Affairs in this house in the way that the Secretary-General has asked for. This is not an orphan child of the UN. Disarmament is a principal activity of the world community now. There is no reason why it should not be given precisely the same attention that is given to political affairs, to humanitarian affairs, to economic and social development. This is serious. We have got a major body of law on our hands. We have got a major set of human objectives with respect to, certainly, weapons of mass destruction, and hopefully, increasingly, conventional weapons.
The game is up. We need a full commitment to disarmament in this house, in a way that we have not had before. New York is the place to do it because that is where the political priorities are set, that is where the enforcement organization, the Security Council, sits, that needs to be given expert advice whenever there is a matter that seems to be one of a failure to implement obligations or keep obligations. This house needs to be second to none in the world in terms of providing top-level expertise and political advice to the political organs of the United Nations who are headquartered here, especially the enforcement body, so that we can, as an organization, make sure that this body of law that we have created and will create further in the future is administered correctly.
As far as Geneva is concerned, I think that probably should continue to be the place where the negotiations are conducted. I think that would prosper better there. I don't think detailed negotiations on disarmament agreements should be snarled up in the politics of New York. I think it is best if they are done in the slightly more placid atmosphere (some would say boring) of Geneva.
But there are two different functions. The negotiation of the texts of treaties is a different function from the setting of the political priorities and the enforcement of those treaties, which is very much a New York-based operation.
As far as the future agenda is concerned, you won't be surprised if I say that I continue to think that the number one subject must be to keep those nuclear weapons states to their promise to get rid of nuclear weapons. It was a very important part of what was done in extending NPT indefinitely. I was intimately involved in those negotiations, and I can assure you they meant what they said; that this was not to be a one-way street. One set of obligations for the non-nuclear weapon states and some relative freedom for the nuclear weapon states. It was a two-way deal, that said we will go on with this treaty forever, which I welcome, because I don't see how you can qualify a norm that says you must never have nuclear weapons. What does it mean if that's only for 25 years? It has to be a norm, forever. But the deal that was done was real. It did bring with it a very clear-cut obligation on the nuclear weapons states to keep their part of the NPT promise, which is to get rid of their nuclear weapons.
I don't think they have been doing that well enough. I don't think they have been doing it fast enough. There is abundant material out there, not least the Canberra Commission Report, but now the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the US National Academy of Sciences, CISAC, and many non governmental organizations have ideas and ways in which to do this. It can be done safely. Those numbers of nuclear weapons can be brought down steadily toward the inevitable zero, safely, and it is time. Nothing can replace that as a key objective of the United Nations system, to insist that the nuclear weapons states keep their promise. I will say that until the cows come home. They have made a promise. It is not new. No one is putting something on them that is improper in some way. They have made a promise. President Clinton, when he was last on the rostrum here, referred to the promise. I say simply, lets keep it. That is the first thing we must do.
Secondly, I think we have got to make sure that the Land Mines Convention enters into force. We have got to help Mr. Bustani build the chemical weapons inspectorate so that gets underway well throughout the world. Our lives, in the future, are going to be surrounded by chemicals. The number of things that we use each day that are made from chemicals is stunning. Things that people look at and still think are made of metal, for example, half of them are plastic. And those chemicals can be modified simply during the production process and turned into weapons. Chemicals are everywhere. We need to ensure that this dual-use technology doesn't get turned to the business of chemical weapons. It's a big job. We have got to bed that down and get it right for the 21st century.
Then, I think, we have got to finally turn our attention to conventional weapons. You will have other ideas and say that you've left out something important, so please remind me. But conventional weapons, in my view, are the sacred cow. The AK-47, of which 30 million were made, and the price in the marketplace in Afghanistan for an AK-47 today is $4.75. Thirty million. They were a cash export crop for Russia, Czechoslovakia and China, a simple weapon that sustains all kinds of mistreatment. You can throw it in the river. You can have an elephant walk over it and it will still work. They are out there everywhere. It is especially shocking to see in the streets of a place like Beirut the terrorists are sometimes 12 years old. What are they carrying? An AK-47 Kalashnikov attack rifle, bought for $4.75.
The world is awash with conventional weapons. We've got to bring that under control. Most people who get killed by weapons get killed by these sorts of things -- small weapons, handguns, rifles. We have got to bring them under control, because although the black market price is as low as I just quoted it to be, the fact is, the amounts of money that governments have spent on acquiring these weapons has been dramatically at the cost of national economic and social development.
So if we are serious about the human family, serious about the other promises of the Charter of the United Nations, which is a decent standard of living for all, in larger freedom -- that's what it says. If we are serious about that, then one of the first things we have got to do is get the business of spending money on conventional weapons under control. Two birds with one stone. More money for development, less death. That would be my agenda for the evolving role of the UN. Keep making law. Keep aiming at the right subjects. Build the disarmament department that we need here in New York to make sure we are strong in that field and that the Security Council is well advised.
And, above all, I can only encourage you to do what you do. Some of you have probably heard this before. I'll finish on this note: There is no question in my mind that the progress that we have seen in law making and behavior in the field of disarmament in the last 20 years has come essentially from you, from the Non-Governmental Organizations, from the people. Most straight politicians never self-started to do this stuff. They had to first learn from you that what was at issue was real, was valued by people and there were votes in it. Most straight politicians never self-started to do this, or to act to protect the environment. These issues were driven by you, by the people. While I know it goes slowly sometimes, and seems hard, take it from me, from one of the people, who, though I work in the straight side of this house, is devoted to disarmament. I have seen it from the inside for over 20 years. What I am telling you is true. None of this would have been possible without what you do, so please continue.
ANN HALLAN LAKHDHIR: Randall Forsberg is the Executive Director of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is a non-profit center for research on ways to minimize the risk of war, reduce the burden of military spending and promote democratic institutions. Some of you know her as the author of the 1980 call to halt the nuclear arms race, which launched the US nuclear weapons freeze campaign. She is a member of the advisory committee of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and an adjunct fellow at Harvard and MIT.
She is the author and co-author of many publications: The Price of Defense, The Arms Production Dilemma and the Non-Proliferation Primer, and of a series of articles in the Boston Review on cooperative security. She received a 5-year MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and will soon be honored, along with Oscar Arias, as a global citizen by the Boston Research Center for the 21st century. She has a Ph.D. from MIT, and honorary doctorates from the University of Notre Dame and Governor's State University. As the representative at the UN for many years of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, I am pleased to introduce you, Randy.
RANDALL FORSBERG: The end of the Cold War has created an opportunity, unique in the course of the last 100 or 200 years, a window of about 25 years, I estimate, if I am being pessimistic, in which we could demilitarize the international system, establish the rule of law in international affairs and put principal reliance, not on national self-help, but on the UN, to keep the peace and restore the peace when it is broken. To accompany those very fundamental changes with very substantial demilitarization and disarmament on the part of the world's most heavily armed nations and in the world as a whole. Actually to have a peace conversion process, which is not national or partial, but global.
In thinking about that kind of future, it seems to me that we have overlooked a core aspect of the problem in our disarmament efforts to date. What we have worked on are the weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological. More recently, we have worked on landmines, those cruel and indiscriminate weapons, and on small arms and light weapons. I am delighted to see there can be international agreements to restrain the influx of such weapons into regions of intense conflict, where they are likely to be used chaotically and randomly or systematically.
We have looked at all the weapons and the aspects of warfare which are easy targets. We are overlooking the core of the problem. We have looked at the most horrible, the most destructive weapons. People can agree they are so outrageous that they just shouldn't be part of our world. The way I see this is nibbling back from the outside edges, choosing a piece here and there, saying, this will not do, don't do this...etc. What is left when you come to the center is something that has been almost invisible in the peace and arms control community. That is, the major conventional weapons systems that account for 90 percent of US military spending, and probably over 95 percent of world military spending, and which are the means by which nation states are holding on to the archaic position of self-help or unilateral decision-making in matters of war and peace. They are the means of initiating major wars, responding to major wars on your own or with your allies, but not through the UN.
These are almost invisible weapons, invisible because they are not on the agenda. We are not talking about them as a problem. They are air forces, armies and navies. I speak about them as the core of the problem, because all the other weapons systems are adjuncts or components of military establishments whose heart and soul, whose foundation and skeleton and structure, is built around the army, the navy and the air force with the ability to make war and to defend against war with major weapons systems.
With the end of the Cold War we are in a unique position that is quite remarkable. We are no longer in a bipolar world, divided into two camps, and there has been a tremendous diffusion and de-escalation of military confrontation. But I think we are both taking too much for granted, and also not looking at the possibility of essentially ending all obvious near-term risks and threats of major conventional war anywhere in the world. This was indeed a central goal of the UN when it was founded.
We are in a situation in which threats of great power war, the wars that have been taking place for five centuries, wars over land and power and empire and control among the world's wealthiest, militarily most powerful nations, are over. There is now no prospect of a great power war for the first time since the middle of the 18th century. There is no issue over which any two of the countries most heavily armed with conventional weapons could go to war, or are likely to go to war in the near future, in the next ten to fifteen years. There is less prospect today than there has been for many centuries of war among very powerful countries, the US, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and, to a lesser extent, Japan, the same countries that have been the great powers throughout the 20th century and in the 19th century and earlier, when there were other countries like Sweden and Denmark and Italy and Portugal and Spain, who were the great powers of those centuries. So we are in this very remarkable era, when, for the first time in this century, there is no threat of great power war.
What are the wars that are fought with major conventional weapons systems, with armies and navies and air forces? The ones that drive the arms race, drive the military spending and military production, are the regional conflicts that have been going on for decades and with which we are familiar. They account for a much greater part of the global arms race and militarization than we realize. Just 14 countries, the two Koreas, China and Taiwan, India and Pakistan, Greece and Turkey and six countries in the Middle East -- Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Those 14 countries now account for over half of the value of all arms exports worldwide, including the industrial countries. Over half of the value of arms exports goes to those 14 countries. The only prospects of a major regional war with conventional weapons systems are among any two or more of those countries.
We know, not only is there no prospect of great-power war, the possibility of a major regional conventional war fought with major weapons systems is limited to a handful of conflicts with which we are all very familiar. We know the conflicts and the difficulty of their resolution. So we are in a situation in which, on the one hand, the risk of war with major weapons systems is remarkably low, and, in the second place, these weapons systems account for the bulk of military spending. They drive the motivation to acquire weapons of mass destruction as a means of deterring major conventional war among those very same 14 countries which account for the bulk of the arms trade and the military spending outside of the old Cold War blocks.
And yet, we don't see the conventional arms race, or the conventional accumulation of armaments, as a problem, because it doesn't have egregiously exaggerated effects on human beings. The prospect of war is low. But I think also for another reason. That is, because it is very difficult to pull together a consensus on the possibility of reducing these systems, of reducing reliance on national means of military defense or partisan alliance means of military defense, and instead, strengthening the role of the UN, defusing regional conflicts, demilitarizing them, de-escalating them and building confidence.
This is the area where I would like to see progress by the UN in disarmament over the next 15 to 20 years, and where I think such progress may be possible. One of the reasons that we haven't been able to do more with this area, and why it remains invisible, is that the countries concerned are not at all interested in having the UN raise this issue. That is probably the main reason for objections to the creation of a Department of Disarmament, which I think is a marvelous idea and a very important initiative which absolutely deserves our support.
I'd like to suggest a few concrete things that a Department of Peace and Disarmament might be able to do to get the ball rolling, and which I think the NGO community could help get a focus on and nudge along. At least we could bring the US and Russia and China and Germany and England to the point of really looking at these issues squarely in the face and asking, isn't there another way.
Our goal should be to reinforce the principle that Ambassador Butler referred to, that conflicts must never be settled by resort to the use of force, but must be settled through diplomacy and negotiation and bargaining. And to establish that as central to people's conceptions of security, particularly in the situations of conflict where there is a disinclination to rule out the use of force.
What kind of arms control and disarmament measures would be likely to do this? I would argue in favor of three or four principle criteria. One of them is that we want to build confidence in the stability of the peace between potential military opponents. That is a principle, but the others are ways of building confidence. They would tend to strengthen the conviction that conflicts are going to be resolved peacefully on the part of potential opponents, and in one's own country, when looking at potential opponents.
The first criteria is that there should be greater transparency about the nature of military forces. What armed forces do countries have, how much do they cost, where are they going in the future, what are the major components of their national forces and national military strategy? If the strategy is genuinely defensive, then a country should feel comfortable -- not revealing secrets that would make it vulnerable -- but with saying, OK, this is what I have, and this is why I have it. And I hope I won't have to use it.
Secondly, it is very important for national defenses to be as defensively oriented as they can be, given the nature of modern technology and the ambiguity of technology. You have all heard the expression, the best defense is a good offense. Well, in some cases that may be true, especially for the militarily more powerful country, which can fight a war with impunity without a single casualty by using superior airpower, aircraft and missiles and electronic surveillance and targeting technology to be able to destroy targets on the ground in an opponent country without suffering any attack at all, any retaliation which injures people.
But, if two countries in conflict both have armed forces based on the principle that the best defense is a good offense, that means, just as we have seen earlier in the nuclear arms race, that you have two scorpions in a bottle, two countries, each of which risks losing their armaments and being put in a vulnerable position if they wait, if they don't attack first. There is an incentive, in a time of great stress, for both countries to move quickly to mobilization, to alerts, and even to preemptive disarming attacks against a potential opponent, on the grounds that this is defensive.
I cannot tell you that there are ways of defending one's country militarily without using offensive arms that are cheaper and easier to use, although that may be the case. But even if it is more expensive or more complicated, it is worth not having a good offense, in order to build confidence that your motive really is defensive, and to help foster the opportunity for dialogue in times of crisis, instead of having things on a hair trigger and tending to escalate, having defensively-oriented defenses, which do not rely primarily on attacking the opponent's armed forces or cities on their home territory, as the means of defending one's own territory. Ruling that out as a defense.
Thirdly, we need to stress avoiding arms races in conventional weaponry, which could be either offense-defense arms races or offense-offense arms races. I am sure you are all familiar with the pattern of introducing new types of combat aircraft which have longer-range, and standoff missiles and supersonic capabilities which may be oriented more toward attacking the ground, or toward destroying the other side's aircraft in the air, and then you can attack on the ground. Air superiority and ground attack aircraft are basically offensive means of defense. Typically what happens in the arms trade is that one country in the region will get more advanced aircraft than the others had, or than it had in the past, and then all the other countries in the region will follow behind. Or one country will get a new type of missile and all the others will follow. What happens, just as in the nuclear arms race, is that you have a spiral effect, where no country is more secure. All the countries spend a lot of money. In many cases all the countries are less secure than they were before because they are more vulnerable to a longer-range, faster attack against which they have less effective defenses.
We must not treat the introduction of new technology in major weapons systems as a given or as a positive feature. Modernization -- isn't that wonderful, we are modernizing our weapons systems? What that means is, we are engaging in a technological arms race in conventional weaponry, which is likely to involve all the parties in a region in a conflict, spending money and competitively building up against one another without fundamentally altering the possibility of a war or the likelihood of a non-violent resolution of the conflict.
These are the criteria we must have in mind: We want to avoid technological arms races and slow the introduction of new types of military technology, especially aircraft and missiles, which have the capability of being offensively used to attack someone else's territory. We want to slow the introduction of new technology. We want to stress defensively-oriented defenses, even if offensively oriented defenses might be more effective. For the sake of building confidence, we want to stress defensively-oriented defenses, and we want to strengthen transparency, so that we know what's going on in these areas.
Here then, are some specific steps which might be taken by a new UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, which I think should be the focus of much more attention and effort by the NGO community:
The first is to provide a systematic analysis of what is going on. This is also about setting priorities about what might be done in a gradual process of de-escalation of conventional arming. We know that the UN Arms Register, which includes arms exports and imports, but not arms procurement, is very partial and full of holes. But, as noted in the Secretary-General's proposal for restructuring the UN, one of the things that can be done by the Secretariat is to look at the information that is available outside of the UN in the public domain -- not just the information that is provided by governments. I think that putting together informational reports, on what can be found by looking at the reports of the public interest community, which has put together figures on military spending, the arms trade and arms holdings, would be a useful step, and would reveal the kind of statistic I mentioned earlier, that 14 countries are the major players in regional conflicts and account for over half of all world arms imports. Turning to the non-governmental sector, to be able to put together a more complete analysis than is permitted by government information, is one possibility.
Secondly, we have a precedent in Vienna that I think almost no one knows about. I certainly did not until I stumbled on it. Since 1990, in Vienna, the parties in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have been exchanging information every year as a transparency and confidence-building measure. What's more important, every year, the kind and quality and extent of information on military programs that is being exchanged has grown through the suggestions of diplomats and military advisors seconded to the OSCE who were looking exactly at what are the kinds of things to worry about, what are the kinds of things we need to know. These exchanges of information include not only a list of holdings of all types of military forces worldwide, but also plans for the procurement of new weapons and changes in military forces over the next five years. These documents are not classified. They are exchanged by 50 countries already, but so for I have only been able to get four of them.
Certainly, this process of exchange could be used as a precedent for looking at what might go on here at the UN in New York. Why limit it to 53 countries in Europe, plus the US and Canada? Why not have a genuinely global exchange of military information for transparency? We can build on the regional precedent in the OSCE to do things here in New York for the world UN community that have not been considered feasible before.
The same is true in the area of conventional arms reductions. We have a precedent in the CFE Treaty. This is a precedent for regional reductions in aircraft, tanks, armored personnel carriers, self-propelled artillery and armed helicopters, all of the weapons for fighting major conventional wars on land. How are those reductions in the treaty on conventional forces set up? According to the following criteria: there should be reductions in the forces which are essential for cross-border attack, and which therefore undermine confidence in the stability of the peace. There should be reductions to make forces more defensively oriented and to build confidence in the fact that they are defensively oriented. And that criteria led to reductions in every single type of major conventional weapons system. The criteria was the offensively oriented systems, but it turned out that included all combat aircraft, all armed helicopters, all heavy tanks, all large armored personnel carriers and all heavy artillery. Why not take that same definition of what is stabilizing, and what helps to promote confidence in the peace, and apply it in the Middle East, in South Asia, in the far east?
Indeed, as a fourth step, I would urge the Department for Disarmament Affairs to call on consultants to do studies, and to have commissions, to look at CFE as a precedent for other regional conventional arms reductions and regional confidence-building and transparency measures. This is not proceeding very well at the moment in the Middle East and has been discussed with possible reference to other regions.
In addition to looking at such regional applications, the Department for Disarmament Affairs could look at qualitative aspects of conventional disarmament globally, not just regionally. What are the armed forces that are maintained, not just in Europe, in the Middle East, in South Asia and the Far East, by the US and by Russia on its two fronts which aren't confined to one region but do need to be brought in to this conventional arms reduction process? How do we bring the US in and make it part of this process of developing reliance on a UN-based, multilateral security system, instead of unilateral decision-making on the part of the US?
One way is to look at global restraints on major conventional weapons systems that would apply to all countries. This is a new area of disarmament which is essential, I think, if we are going to get a grip on the problem of a militarized foreign policy in this country.
Finally, there is a need to look in more concrete detail at how the UN could establish a rapid reaction capability that will be supported by the international community to try to prevent conflicts from breaking out and nip them in the bud.
These measures -- systematic analysis, greater transparency, regional conventional arms reductions, global conventional arms reductions and shifting reliance from national forces and partisan military alliances to the UN system, to a non-partisan global rule of law, are the kinds of steps that I think are the core of the problem of ending war. They don't result in a quick resolution of ethnic conflicts, civil wars, or border conflicts of the kind that we have become preoccupied with since the end of the Cold War, but what they do is help all of us to look at a non-discriminatory consistent set of principles for how nations and people should behave in the international system.
The problem with limiting the arms trade in major conventional weapons systems is it is discriminatory against countries which have decided not to build their own arms industry. If you have your own arms industry, you can get as many conventional weapons as you want, but if you don't, then the international community will tell you what you can't get. The arms trade does indeed fuel regional conflicts, but attempting to stop the arms trade and stop the regional conflicts without stopping arms building by the major arms producers is discriminatory and is never going to be politically successful for that reason. The arms importing countries can always point to the fact that they deserve to get whatever the people who have arms industries have. They are going to keep winning on that principle. In my opinion, they probably should. We need to have equitable standards that apply to all countries, the producers, as well as the importers, and which are looking at the de-escalation in acquiring offensively oriented systems with long range attack capabilities. This is really an important new agenda for the post-Cold War world, and I hope that I can get some of you interested in working on it with me.
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ANN LEGGETT, Federation of American Arab Organizations: ...Ambassador Butler, it seems to me that...a major fly in the ointment of disarmament might be that when a nation goes to the Security Council on any war and peace issue, the outcome is somewhat predictable. We all know that there is a certain automatic veto from the world's sole remaining superpower on Security Council reform. How can we expect progress until the Security Council has been democratized?
JEAN KOTKIN: National Service Conference of the American Ethical Union: Could you tell us a little bit more about how we might resolve armed conflicts by other means?
QUESTIONER: What will be the effect of NATO expansion?
MARJORIE COHEN, League of Women Voters: Many of your suggestions I think many of us here would support. How can you get arms manufacturing countries to agree?
PAT MISCHE, Global Education Associates: A major peace organization suggested that it might not support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty because it is very concerned that the US will continue to develop nuclear weapons by computer modelling of nuclear tests. What is the value of the CTBT?
AMBASSADOR BUTLER: The question about NATO doesn't really apply to me, but I can't resist it. What's it there for? There has to be a very clear understanding of what it is about, now that the other side doesn't exist, and I'm not sure there is that clarity at this time.
On the democratization of the Security Council, I have participated for several years in the process of examining how to "modernize" the Security Council, a word that I invented. All sorts of words such as reform were invented, but I invented the term modernization, and it got a fair amount of currency, because what it was about was making it a modern instrument, fit for today's and tomorrow's times, not those of the past. One of the ways it should be modernized is by changing its constituency, that is, its composition, as that reflects the degree to which it represents the various parts of the world. I think that could be greatly improved.
On its decision-making methodology, in particular, the veto, I think that is a secondary question, but one that needs to be revisited. I assume that when you talk about democratization, you mean improved representativeness of the Council. I would like to assume that might mean that it one day might be possible, if it could get the votes, for Israel to be elected to the Council. Israel's democratic rights at the moment are being structurally impeded. It cannot run a candidature for election to the Council, so you and I, assuming our interest in democratization of the Council, would want to see that changed.
On CTBT, I work on that question. Because of my longstanding interest I had, indeed, a role in bringing the CTBT to New York. I introduced the Treaty to the General Assembly and, in that speech, addressed the question you've asked. The CTBT is not a nuclear disarmament treaty. It is not a treaty which will, in and of itself, prevent improvement in nuclear weapons through simulation in computers or by other means. It won't ban nuclear war. There are a lot of things that it will not do. That is why we still need to do all those other things by other means. But there sure as hell is one thing it will do. It will stop all test explosions. I utterly fail, and will until the day I go to the grave, to understand what the hell is wrong with that.
RANDALL FORSBERG: I would like Ambassador Butler to address the question of the veto.
AMBASSADOR BUTLER: The veto is a secondary issue. Some say it is the basic issue. I see it as fitting into the category of decision-making methodology. The first thing the Council should be is representative of the community that the Charter compels it to represent. I had very substantial clashes in arguments with the permanent representatives in my previous job about this issue because they would very often talk to us about the independence of the Security Council, how it really was a special club, quite different from the rest of the organization.
I made the point over and over again that you work for us. It really doesn't matter that five of you are named in the Charter. By the way, two of the names are wrong. Where is the USSR these days? A fix was done to make sure that meant the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China. My point is that it is irrelevant that five of you are named in the Charter. That's part of how the organ is constructed. The other ten are elected. The much deeper question is, what the hell are you there for? Who do you work for? It is perfectly clear that they are there for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security in the name of the whole community. They work for us.
That is the first thing that has to be got straight. Proceeding from that, it is like the notion of representative government. If the system constituting the body that works for us is seen to be out of whack, out of synchronization, or out of line with contemporary realities, then it should be changed. I think that is absolutely fundamental. The body was last changed in 1965, when 8 elected members became 10 elected members. The Security Council was constituted at a time when there were 47 Member States. There are now 185, over 100 of which were previously colonies. You tell me this world hasn't changed? This world has changed profoundly, but that body hasn't.
As a representative body, working for us, that basis needs to be changed. That's the first point. Secondly, and only then should we look into decision-making methodology. To do it the other way around would be to start with an a priori assumption that the veto power for those five victor states of World War II is engraved in stone and will never change. You do it the other way around. The sensible approach to decision-making methodology begins with first knowing what your team is, first knowing how many and what kind of people do you have on this Council. Is it 20? 21, 22, 24? Where do they come from? Then you see this representation of the world, and then it is intelligent to say, how do we want this body to take its decisions? Then you look at the veto.
Finally, on the veto, bear in mind, there is not one veto power in the Charter. There are three. One is exercised on matters within the Council. One is exercised with respect to the election of the Secretary-General, and one is exercised with respect to the amendment of the Charter itself. You can't change the Charter unless they agree. An approach to revisiting the veto has got to revisit all of those things. I'd be interested to hear which one you think is the hardest.
I think the hardest nut to crack is Article 109, which says the permanent members have a veto over the amendment of the Charter. I am implying that these nuts have to be cracked, probably through an understanding that the veto be used only in extremis within the Council. If the Council is expanded, maybe you come to a system of double vetoes, where, for any proposition to fail, two permanent members would have to negate it. Thereby you dilute it by half. There are many such proposals out there in the ether. My point is, make it a representative body first, then address the appropriate decision-making methodology for such a body.
RANDALL FORSBERG: It seems to me that, on the other side of the argument, it is important that the five permanent members have a negative power -- not the power to cause a military intervention, but the power to prevent one, which is, I think, an important shade of difference. The causing of a military intervention does require a majority vote, and the permanent members don't constitute a majority. To some extent, it is overstated, but I would like to see a more egalitarian system. I agree with what Ambassador Butler said on the CTBT.
On the issue of non-violent resolution of regional conflicts, NATO and how you get countries to see disarmament as being in their self-interest. They are linked. What we might do in the NGO community about the non-violent resolution of regional conflicts is to put a lot more energy into understanding what is at issue for the parties, and into conveying that understanding to the public. Put more energy into looking for and giving a voice to the voices from within the regions which are looking for fair politically workable compromises. And give those voices a platform here and in Europe.
In terms of NATO, I don't think there should be any NATO in the post-Cold War world. I think the reason for NATO is gone. On the other hand, we seem to be between a rock and a hard place. We have NATO on one hand and the OSCE on the other. NATO is too partisan and peremptory and the OSCE is too weak, and doesn't act and pull together. Again, I think it is like the regional conflict issue. I think it would be extremely useful if people would pay attention to what the OSCE has done and could do with greater support from the United States, Britain and France, from the NATO countries. What kinds of things might be delegated or shifted over from the partisan alliance to the regional organization with universal membership? These are suggestions of things that NGOs have not been working on. They are not easy and not obvious. They arise now because we have made so much progress on the simpler, more basic problems. Now that we have made so much progress on disarmament, to move forward on peace and disarmament, we need to grapple with the institution-building of security and of regional peace.
In terms of self-interest, let me just say something about the US. There are only five countries which produce major conventional weapons systems which are at the cutting edge of technology: the US, Britain, France, Germany and Russia. Those countries account for all of the exported major weapons systems of the kind I have been talking about, which are front-line weapons systems: tanks, airplanes, ships, missiles and so-on. Five countries, three of whom are our European allies. One, the US, accounts for half the exports. One is our former opponent whom we are now in a position to help adopt a more co-operative approach to international security.
Those five countries are exporting weapons to the fourteen countries in regional conflicts which are the same conflicts which the five producers are maintaining their own military forces at great expense to intervene in in the future. What is the argumentation? It is we have to export the weapons, not only because they deserve it for their security. We have to export the weapons to keep our industries open so that we will have the industries to produce the weapons when we need to go to war in the future. By exporting the weapons they can exacerbate the regional conflicts in which they will need to use their own forces.
I cannot agree in terms of the self-interest. I cannot agree with the idea that the profit motive of the arms industries is the main problem of conventional weapons. There is another vested interest, which is employment and jobs. So it is not just on the corporate side. It is on the workers side and the community side. We need to take into account that at the end of the Viet Nam War, the US cut spending on the defense industries in half, and we have done that again at the end of the Cold War. There has been a huge reduction in arms production at the end of the Cold War in the US and worldwide...With the 50 percent reduction in the volume of arms production, it is not profit motive driven, but power driven. It is the interest of governments in maintaining industries that will give them the capability of having military forces that they can use wherever they want to that is keeping those industries open. It was profits in the 1980s, when military spending increased by 50 percent in five years. This is now a great power problem.
Our way of getting to that interest in the US is through the military budget. We have cut back military spending from the Reagan level back to the pre-Reagan Cold War norm, $250 billion a year. US military spending has been within 20 billion of $250 billion in today's dollars every year since the end of the Korean War, except for the Viet Nam War and the Reagan build-up. The Soviet Union is gone, the Warsaw Pact is gone, the threats are gone, there is no threat of major war in the Middle East in the near future. The US is not going to intervene in South Asia, so we have Syria and North Korea as the principal opponents against whom the US is maintaining a $250 billion military budget. Syria is the only potential war-launcher in the Middle East for the near future. Iran is even weaker than Iraq after the Gulf War and will take a long time to become a major military power. The US has a $250 billion military budget with two potential, although unlikely, near-term initiators of conventional war, Syria and North Korea.
This is an absolute, mind-blowing outrage, that Congress and Clinton can get away with not reducing US military spending by $100 billion more over the next five years as a consequence of the end of the Cold War. They are not cutting further because they are trying to keep that infrastructure of a full-blown, globe-dominating military structure in place. I don't think we need to worry about the profit motive. I think we need to worry about what people think about the role of the United States in the world and our self-image and the fact that there is no information out there in the public on what the potential wars and threats are. The NGO community is the community that needs to provide that information. Providing it is much harder than providing information on nuclear weapons because these are not politically easy issues. The Middle East, Korea and China are not easy issues, but if we don't talk about conventional military forces in connection with those regions in connection with US foreign policy we are throwing away the opportunity that has been offered by the end of the Cold War to do again what people tried to do in 1945.
AMBASSADOR BUTLER: Let me just add a few words to what Dr. Forsberg has just said on two things, NATO and the arms industries. In addition to the reasons that Dr. Forsberg has just mentioned, that motivate states maintaining military budgets and arms industries, there is one that has struck me repeatedly as particularly cruel to developing countries. Some of the major arms exporting countries actually plan to export a part of their product to developing countries as a means of paying for their own domestic military requirements, for reasons of power and prestige. Their motivation is to be strong in the world. One of the ways they do that is to maintain a domestic industry to build the weapons they need. One of the ways they pay for it is by selling the product to developing countries. Developing countries are helping some of them with their pretensions of power, which is a pretty cynical business, in my view.
There is another side of the same issue, taking politics down to the domestic level. All politics is local, even international politics. It is the phenomenon which you in particular can address as NGOs, of people running for office who promise they will not shut down the arms industry in the town. There isn't a Congressional district in this country that doesn't have a part of the arms industry in it. The same is true in many other western countries. It is not quite the same in the country I come from, but then it is not a large arms producer. In the big arms producing countries you very often find that the arms producers are dispersed through the country so people running for office very often run on a platform for their district, with promises of jobs...That is one of the places you need to be active, at the local level.
Turning back to NATO, I was interested that Dr. Forsberg was as forthright as she was, saying that it shouldn't exist. There are two organizations in the post-Cold War world of which you could say that. One is NATO, and the other is the Non-Aligned Movement. What they have in common is that they were created to oppose something; they had a negative reason for their creation. But with respect to NATO, I would make this point as a person who didn't originate in the European continent, even though some of my culture is of European origin. Europe is unique in contemporary history in its homicidal character. Europe killed 60 million of its own people this century, and some of ours, and yours and Canada's. Europe has a pretty homicidal history. If one of the ways to deal with that is to make everyone feel that they belong together, but above all in which they promise that they will never fight each other, then that is not all bad. That is what I meant when I said, as long as they can work out what it is there for, maybe it could be OK. To the extent that it frightens the daylights out of Russia, then it is a problem. But if one of its functions is to provide a house in which everyone lives under the rule that we will never again fight each other, then that is not all bad, given their past record.
EVGENIY GORKOVSKIY: ...I think we are not paying enough attention to one topic. The technological arms race continues. We are forgetting that new generations will be living under new dangers. This problem sooner or later will have its impact on security and disarmament. We should not fight only problems of the past, we should also keep in sight the problems of the future, not forgetting the past. For example, some conventional weapons are really becoming very destructive such as certain conventional ammunition and others. This might be the danger for the future disarmament. The international community should start thinking about this. States are working on new war technologies. The dangers are there.
My second message: while trying to reach global and big solutions, do not forget practical measures in disarmament. Just one of my personal impressions comes from what I encountered at the workshop on would ballistics in Switzerland. I was not aware of this problem until I saw it with my own eyes. Armies of many countries are being armed now with small caliber rifles. When I saw the pictures of wounds inflicted by those weapons presented at this workshop by Red Cross doctors who brought them from conflict areas, I was shocked. If those pictures are distributed here, nobody will eat their lunch. During informal discussions, one military expert said casually it is not the problem, the main problem is how to protect the soldier. I was shocked again. We are, in the United Nations, working to protect humanity, every human being. I asked him, "Who is dying in the present conflicts in the world?"He didn't answer. But we know: 70 to 90 percent of the victims in modern conflicts are civilians. This is a practical issue. The Red Cross was very instrumental in the campaign against land mines. There are other issues that can be identified. So I thank Dr. Forsberg for focusing on conventional weapons. We are thankful to the NGO community for supporting the United Nations. The United Nations can do as much as the Member States allow the United Nations to do. We are trying our best.
JOHN LINEWEAVER, Fellowship for Reconciliation: My question involves training and education, rather than weapons. What can be done about training and education? I worry about the transfer of nuclear expertise across borders, about mercenaries across national boundaries, and covert operations by big powers to affect the politics in another power.
DORRIE WEISS, Economists Allied for Arms Reduction: Ambassador Butler, you mentioned the IAEA. Do you think perhaps the function of the IAEA is somewhat ambiguous in that they are promoting atomic power at the same time that they are trying to verify no diversion for weapons, and so they have two functions?
JONATHAN GRANOFF, Lawyers Alliance for World Security: Most of the discussion has focused on the security of states, whereas most of the conflicts raging in the world today are based on ethnic, religious and racial misunderstandings. Of over 25 of them, there are only five relating to States, in the Middle East, Pakistan and India, and even those are driven by religious differences. We need to focus on the new definition of human security, as discussed at the World Summit on Social Development. I wonder if you could talk about ways in which the United Nations could address inter-religious, inter-ethnic and racial conflicts, such as regional conflict prevention centers, and ways of getting civil society to focus on these kinds of problems.
BOB SCHWARTZ, Economists Allied for Arms Reductions: ..It is wrong to say that the military creates jobs. Military industry is one of the least productive per dollar spent of any industry in creating jobs. It is highly capitalized, not labor creative. Some labor unions have understood that...We are a great producer of arms, but where is our infrastructure? Our transportation system is way behind that of France, Germany, Japan. What is our housing situation? There is a tremendous problem of homelessness...We are the only major country without a health care system that really is a health care system...
QUESTIONER: Is there any research being done on the effects of the French nuclear testing?
RANDALL FORSBERG: I don't know of research...Although the testing did not stop soon enough, public opinion did make France end the testing series sooner than it had originally planned, and public opinion also has apparently influenced Yeltsin's view and possibly Russia's position on land mines...It does show that the kind of activity that NGOs are doing can make a difference eventually even on governments that are very impervious to outside influence...
I agree with everything Bob Schwartz said. I was only referring to the political pressure on members of Congress from their constituents who don't want to lose jobs. The problem is that members of Congress are hearing from constituents employed with Defense Department money and they are not hearing from the rest of us that if they cut those funds, with or without a conversion plan, that will make us work to re-elect them. They are only hearing from one side in this equation. There was a focus group opinion poll done close to the last national election to find out what people thought about cutting the military budget, and the answer was that people thought it should be cut, not too fast, but there was some reluctance because they thought that military technology was the only area in which the US had a comparative advantage in international trade, which is an incredibly sad comment and it is also not true. It is true that the US has a comparative advantage in military technology, but this represents a very small fraction of US international trade, under five percent.
AMBASSADOR BUTLER: ...Some examination has been conducted on the area around the atolls of the French testing. I am not sure of the findings...I think Dr. Forsberg was right. The most positive lesson that can be drawn from France bringing its testing program to a halt is the role that people around the world played in bringing that about. Governments approached France and said that they should stop it, some of them angrily. There was a large outcry about the round of testing eighteen months ago, but they stopped. They reduced the number of planned tests and they joined the Test Ban Treaty...The public outcry, largely generated by non governmental people, brought about an end to a truly significant testing program, which was about improving generations of nuclear weapons...The public of this world has a significant success in bringing to a halt a major testing program by a significant nuclear weapons state. Looking into the future, as we always must, I think that was an achievement that is worth remembering and inspiring future work because you did it, and they are now in the test ban regime. That is very important.
With respect to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there was a very significant period in the history of the nuclear age which culminated in the negotiation of the IAEA. It is true, as Mr. Gorkovskiy pointed out, that the first resolution of the General Assembly was on nuclear disarmament, in January 1946. Also in January 1946 Bernard Baruch proposed to the United Nations on behalf of the United States that this technology that had emerged, called nuclear weapons technology, should be given over to the world community, that there should be international management of it from the beginning. But Mr. Stalin didn't want that to happen. He wanted instead to enter into a competition with the United States on nuclear weapons, and so the Cold War and the associated arms race started and went on for almost 50 years, producing 80,000 nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union rejected the Baruch plan in 1946. There was a United Nations Atomic Energy Commission created but that didn't go anywhere.
So it was a truly remarkable achievement when President Eisenhower came to the General Assembly in December, 1953 and made an atoms for peace speech and proposed for the second time that there be international control of atomic energy and it was taken up. A few months later, in 1954, the conference on the statute of an International Atomic Energy Agency got under way. Two years later it entered into force and the Agency was created. There is one fundamental reason why that negotiation was successful, where the 1946 negotiation was not. That was because what was put into the package was the promotion of the peaceful uses of atomic energy, as well as insistence that those peaceful uses never be converted to any military purpose. Had there not been inclusion of that developmental, civil, use of atomic energy, the Russians and others would never have agreed to the creation of the IAEA. So its coming into existence relied on the Agency having what you call, and perhaps rightly, this ambiguous role.
I think the Agency has managed it well. When it acquired subsequently, in 1968, the role of verifying the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty then the arms control side of it expanded in a very large fashion. I don't think the Agency is in fact in an ambiguous position. I think the promotion of the peaceful uses of atomic energy that it carries out are basically good for human purposes. It is not just the generation of electricity, in fact that has fallen into a bit of a hole in some parts of the world. But it does include radio-isotopes for medicine and agriculture and a lot of other technical assistance activities that are helpful to the human family. I think the Agency feels this ambiguity and I don't think it has behaved in a way where it has mixed these things up. Hans Blix, who is about to retire from the job, was here last week and I think his fifteen years at the top of the Agency, taking it through the Chernobyl period as well as the NPT, has seen the Agency grow into being a major contributor to ensuring that the stuff that is out there, nuclear energy, which can so easily lead to the making of atomic bombs, on the whole doesn't. The Agency performs that part of its function pretty well.
Jonathan Granoff asked me a question that is difficult because it is such a large question. Human security for a long time in human history has been defined in terms of freedom from being killed, in particular in war. A lot of our thinking, including some of the thinking that went into the Charter of the UN, rested on that fundamental assumption, that one of the main threats to human security was someone with a gun, that you might be killed principally in war. That was not without justification because over the scope of recorded human history the picture that is so often seen is of a family that has suffered from war, over and over again. You look at literature in any language and you see one of the most persistent human experiences is a mother weeping for the loss of her son or a woman weeping for the loss of her husband...But I think we now understand today that that is not the case. Dr. Forsberg has made an enlightening presentation about how much war ought to be behind us. There are only a few parts of the world, important parts, including the Arab part, where the threat remains, but so much of the world really could be seen to be in a state where the omnipresent threat of being killed by war is actually behind us. It really ought to be behind us. The conditions for it being behind us are there.
So human security, and the threats to it, becomes something else. I certainly tried to make clear at the Copenhagen Conference on Social Development that for most people in today's world, the most profound threat to their security is actually non-military, and that is what is different. For most people, the first and most omnipresent threat to their security is poverty. One in five people on this planet live in grinding poverty. After that, there are other threats coming through the environment, through disease, through criminality, through narcotics and so on. The answer to those threats doesn't lie in a gun.
That is why disarmament is so relevant today. No one ought to need weapons in the way that they did in the past. The answer to those problems is not a rifle. You can't shoot down HIV. You can't deal with major environmental catastrophes that in some parts of the world, not least today North Korea, leads some people to eat the bark from the trees because there is nothing else to eat. You can't deal with that by pointing a gun at it. So for most people the threats to their security are non-military. That should compel us to deal with those things first, to deal with poverty. And that does mean jobs. Surveys repeatedly show, when you ask what people want, they don't say, give me a bag of money. They say give me a job because they know the only way to secure their future, and that of their children is to work somewhere.
That means employment, and good systems of governance, above all governance, because one of the main reasons human security is threatened by poverty, by lawlessness, by criminality, by exploitation, is actually poor systems of governance in too many parts of the world. Governments that aren't open to the individuals that they are supposed to govern, open to them to shape it, to be a part of what happens to resources. There are too many countries in the world in which a large number of poor people live that are very rich countries, having lousy systems of governance. Those are the things that are most life-threatening today.
Those are things that need to be addressed through changes in political institutions, changes in the economy, and above all, changes in our spirit. And that is where disarmament comes in. Weapons are essentially life-negating, and that is what is wrong with them. They kill people and they respond in some way to an aspiration that is found in human beings to deal in death rather than to deal in life. I think we have an unprecedented opportunity, with the end of the Cold War, to recognize that our biggest challenge is in dealing with non-military threats to security. Disarmament would set us free to deal with the non-military threats to security, provided that we also feed ourselves spiritually and recognize that in dealing with arms we are dealing with that side of human personality that sometimes likes to deal in death rather than life.
EVGENIY GORKOVSKIY: ...It's not the weapons that kill people, it is the people that kill people. Never forget the lessons from Rwanda. More than 600,000 people, some say 800,000 people, were killed by household tools, by machetes. Education is very important. We have to start very early to educate people in non-violence, in ethnic and religious tolerance. If you don't do this we may not be able to solve the problems of disarmament and security. That is why I support the idea of educating and training. The Centre for Disarmament Affairs has an information program to try to educate the public at large about disarmament and security.
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