Holy See on Arms Reduction

"Weapons Are More Easily Obtainable Than Food"

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NEW YORK, NOV. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement delivered Wednesday by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, to the United Nations Security Council on "Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Strengthening Collective Security Through General Regulation and Reduction of Armaments."



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Mr. President,

Allow me to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council this month. My Delegation expresses its appreciation for convening this open debate with the goal of addressing the necessity of a general regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces, with a view towards strengthening international peace and security.

The dramatic consequences of the illicit global arms trade call the international community to redouble its commitment to create new control mechanisms. With the recent adoption of the resolution Towards an Arms Trade Treaty in the First Committee of the General Assembly, which lays down the first important step toward a legally binding instrument on arms trade and transfers, this debate is not only timely but vital to reinvigorating the efforts in global arms reduction. The Holy See fully supports and encourages such an undertaking in this body and by the entire international community, and stands ready to give its contribution.

The initiative of the Security Council to address the issue of the regulation and reduction of armaments is interlinked with the continued worldwide problems of security and is gaining momentum around the world. Recently, during the general debate within the First Committee of the General Assembly, we heard a delegate from Africa say that “for every African, there are seven illicit bullets and three guns targeted at him or her. This is scandalous especially at a time when an unacceptably high ratio of the world’s population still lives below the poverty line”.

This is but one example among many. My delegation shares the grave concern of conflict-ridden countries, whose experience tells us that illicit trade in arms, their accumulation and illicit production are a hindrance to the peaceful settlement of disputes, turn tensions into armed conflicts and are a key factor in prolonging them, thus heavily compromising peace and development. The lack of regulation and commitment to reducing global arms supply has created a world in which weapons are more easily obtainable than food, shelter and education. Clearly, by dedicating even a portion of the $1.3 trillion spent on arms to programs designed to promote the full social, economic and spiritual growth of people, we will not only be creating a better and safer world but also promoting a new respect for life and one another.

Mr. President, in this context my Delegation wishes to echo the voices of hundreds of thousands in the Democratic Republic of Congo, crying out for justice, peace, security and the ability to simply live in dignity on their own soil. The Holy See strongly condemns the massacres being committed under the eyes of the international community in the DRC and calls for all efforts to stop this human tragedy. The entry into force of the Nairobi Protocol on Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons, on 5 May 2006, marked an important step towards universal standards for protecting civilian populations in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and bordering States. We realize that the very States where massacres take place in these days have signed and ratified the Nairobi Protocol. The Holy See urges all of them to expedite its implementation.

In conclusion, Mr. President, my Delegation fully agrees with the need to develop a new security consensus which will assist in achieving the internationally agreed development goals, security and respect for human rights. Greater efforts, political will, transparency, flexibility and openness are needed. My Delegation shares the view that to begin such a process, the first and most important step is to ensure that States abide by the treaties they have signed and ratified.

Thank you, Mr. President