BUILDING ON THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE ON ARTICLE 26 AND REGULATION OF ARMAMENTS AND MILITARY SPENDING
last month's edition, we described the historic debate held by the UN
Security Council on the implementation of Article 26 of the UN Charter
and introduced its relevance in the context of the Global Article 9
month, we wish to highlight some of the interesting proposals put
forward by some of the 38 participating delegations, which we can be
built upon for renewed and strengthened advocacy for peace, disarmament
Most statements placed collective security at the center of the
debate and insisted on the importance of multilateralism, calling on
the different UN organs to better coordinate their respective efforts.
While some emphasized the need to keep a division of powers with the
General Assembly, the most democratic UN body, at the center, several
welcomed the initiative taken by the Security Council to engage in the
area of disarmament.
Japan and Switzerland, for example, proposed
that the Security Council play a greater role in the context of
peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding efforts by including arms
regulation and disarmament as part of peace negotiations.
More generally, South Africa insisted on the
need to build an environment in which states feel comfortable disarming
or reducing military expenditures. In that regard, the Bolivian
delegate mentioned that its country was about to adopt a new
constitution stating "Bolivia is a pacifist State which promotes the
culture of peace and the right to peace, as well as cooperation among
the peoples of the region and the world." Costa Rica and Japan also
pointed at their war-renouncing constitutions.
Several delegations such as Benin, Libya and
Nigeria, highlighted the importance of regional arrangements, while
global multilateral negotiations are underway. Indonesia recalled the
Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, in which
"signatories and acceding States renounce the use of force and bind
themselves to peaceful settlement of disputes in the region, serving as
a model for other regions." Likewise, Vietnam pointed at the South-East
Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone as a further contribution to the
non-proliferation and disarmament agenda. Armenia, for its part, called
on states of a region to commit to the non-use of force in the
settlement of unresolved conflicts, before forging collective security
Regulation of armament
"Arms are the true cause of conflicts," stated the Bolivian Ambassador,
pointing at the licit arms trade as being no "less deadly than the
illicit" one. Indeed, most countries acknowledged the need for
transparency and monitoring of arms procurement, production, and trade
as a way to build confidence among states and called for an arms trade
treaty that develops international standards for the import, export and
transfer of conventional arms.
Countries such as Norway and Austria commended
the open process developed among states, civil society and the UN for
the Cluster Munitions Convention and the Ottawa Convention on
Landmines, and proposed to follow these examples and apply lessons
learned from such humanitarian disarmament approaches to efforts
towards an arms trade treaty.
Link between Disarmament and Development
"The lack of regulation and commitment to reducing global arms supplies
has created a world in which weapons are more easily obtainable than
food, shelter and education," deplored the representative of the Holy
See. Like him, many participating delegations reiterated the link
between peace, security, development and human rights.
Several delegations, including Switzerland and
Morocco, referred to the 2006 Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and
Development process as an innovative approach to realize human
security, and the UK proposed mainstreaming disarmament as part of
"We seek to eradicate extreme poverty and
hunger; yet armed conflicts are the largest single cause of world
hunger, and a major cause of food emergencies. We seek to reduce child
mortality; yet thousands of child soldiers are fighting as we speak,"
stated Costa Rican President and Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias while
calling for the "strengthening of multilateralism, the reduction of
military spending in favour of human development, and the regulation of
the international arms trade."
Since 2006, Costa Rica has put forward a
proposal, known as the Costa Rica Consensus, which seeks to "create
mechanisms to forgive debts and support with international financial
resources those developing countries which increase spending on
environmental protection, education, healthcare and housing for their
people and decrease spending on weapons and soldiers."
This initiative, along with some of the ideas
presented during this Security Council historic debate, offers a new
window of opportunity for continued discussions and paves the way for
further advocacy and follow-up.
Read all the statements made at the UNSC open debate: here and here;
as well as Reaching Critical Will's thorough report on the debate, here.