WORKING TO ACHIEVE A PEACEFUL SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FREE FROM THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The world spends $1.9 Trillion in arms annually, supporting a military approach to national security that does nothing to advance the security of human beings from global emergencies such as COVID-19 and climate change. The trillions of dollars anticipated to be spent over the next decade to modernize or expand the nuclear arsenals of the nine nations with nuclear weapons will do nothing to enhance human security. If anything it will send us backward.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated the reality very clearly:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
While million of people have fallen victim to the COVID-19 virus, while death tolls are continuing to plague us, reductions of expenditures on weaponry have not even been debated in the corridors of power. This is outrageous. To his credit, Senator Ed Markey in the US, a Co President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, has proposed legislation to address this distortion, but it has not developed required traction nor even reasonable public debate.
We cannot ignore the demand put upon us by the pandemic, the challenge of climate change, and the need to fulfill a comprehensive development agenda that brings gender equity, environmental responsibility and real security. Less than 1% of global GDP is all that is needed to fund the Paris Climate agreement and around 5% of GDP would be needed to fund the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The five nations with the largest defense budgets: US, China, India, Russia, and Saudi Arabia accounted for 62% of 2019 military expenditures. Russian, Indian and US rates of Covid infections are some of the highest in the world.
The US has the most bloated military profligacy at over $740 billion per year or around 3.4% of GDP for 2021. This budget includes tens of billions for modernization and expanded use of nuclear weapons which boggles the mind in the face of needed resources to address soaring rates of unemployment, dramatically increased health care demands, and crumbling infrastructure. The ugly irony of this budget is the glaring reality that the more the weapons are perfected the less security is obtained.
We highlight the specific insane expenditures on nuclear weaponry and urge your attention to Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign. I think that these expenditures are shameful. As General Omar Bradley stated,
“We live in an age of nuclear giants and ethical infants, in a world that has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. We have solved the mystery of the atom and forgotten the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about dying than we know about living.”
I am pleased to share that there is global leadership worthy of our attention — statements at the UN recently and particularly those of Secretary General Guterres where he commented on the staggering costs of nuclear weapons, emphasized the need for progress on fulfilling disarmament obligations, called for reaffirmation of the truism that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and placed the need to redirect the focus of the pursuit of security on human security. We urge your attention to the linked presentations of the Secretary General as well as other important presentations recently made at the UN.
President, Global Security Institute
Senior Advisor and Special Representative to the UN for the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates
Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Participates in UN High Level Meeting on the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
On October 2, 2020, 77 Heads of State and Ministers addressed the United Nations High Level Meeting on the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly.
This year’s level of participation indicates widespread global concern, especially among non-nuclear governments, about the threat from nuclear weapons.
Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, a program of GSI, and former President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Saber Chowdhury MP (Bangladesh) was one of only two representatives from global civil society invited to address the meeting. Mr Chowdhury, along with Ms Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic) the other civil society representative, called on UN Member States to de-escalate the nuclear arms race, redirect nuclear weapons budgets and investments to meet human security needs, and commit to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the UN.
Click here for the full list of speakers.
H.E. Volkan Bozkir, President of the UN General Assembly, opened the event with a strong presentation reminding us that the UN was born out of the ashes of WWII and the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, and calling on UN member states to fulfill their obligations to end the nuclear arms race and achieve the comprehensive elimination of nuclear weapons.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, followed with an impassioned speech warning that the world continues to live in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe. He urged nuclear armed states to take practical steps to reduce nuclear risks, and on all members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to work towards a positive outcome to the Review Conference next year that takes forward concrete nuclear disarmament steps.
“Some states view nuclear weapons as vital to their national security and survival. But the elimination of nuclear weapons is vital to something beyond the fate of any single state: the survival of life on this planet.”
UN Secretary General António Guterres
Civil Society Presentations
Two members of global civil society were invited to make presentations to the High Level event. They were Ms Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic), Vice-Chair of PragueVision Institute for Sustainable Security and one of the convenors of #Wethepeoples2020, and Mr Saber Chowdhury MP (Bangladesh), Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.
Ms Proskova noted that nuclear weapons “are dangerous whether they are used on purpose or due to a miscalculation. They are extremely harmful to the environment which we are so vehemently trying to protect. In the 21st century they are simply obsolete. And, what is more, they are phenomenally expensive.”
‘I was born into a post-Cold war world still bristling with thousands of nuclear warheads. “They are not supposed to be used, then why are they here?” I would ask, seeing no logical reasoning for any government prioritizing spending on nuclear weapons and war over its public health and education systems.’
Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic)
click here to watch her presentation
Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Saber Chowdhury noted that ‘We all have a key role to play and engage with governments to ensure implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations, and in diverting resources from nuclear weapons to positive impacts for the economy, livelihoods and protection of nature.”
“Nuclear weapons are of no use in the face of a pandemic or for our quest to protect the climate, our responsibility to feed the hungry, ensure health care, education and basic services for all, leaving no one behind and fortifying our planet – the only home we have.”
PNND Co-President Saber Chowdhury
Both of the civil society representatives called on UN members to de-escalate the nuclear arms race, redirect nuclear weapons budgets and investments to meet human security needs, and commit to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the UN.
These calls to government will be taken forward to the UN General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) which meets from Oct 6-Nov 5, 2020 and the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference which is scheduled to take place in January 2021.
Invitation to Sneak Preview of New Film
For your pleasure, watch a Special Sneak Preview of THE WORLD IS MY COUNTRY, the untold story of Gary Davis. Presented by Sunseed WisdomTalks.
4 PM PDT Special Free Screening of THE WORLD IS MY COUNTRY
5:10 Round Table Discussion Amertad Cohn, Director of movie SunSeed – The Journey and Arthur Kanegis, Director of THE WORLD IS MY COUNTRY, and Jonathan Granoff with Q and A.
Registration at Sunseed.org/wisdomtalks
Gary Davis publicized an idea championed in the tradition of Albert Einstein, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Schweitzer, E. B. White and other luminaries that we are first and foremost citizens of the planet. You might enjoy this film about an entertaining figure whom Eleanor Roosevelt characterized as a “flash in the pan publicity;” you might decide she was correct or that he was an authentic visionary in the tradition of John Lennon’s Imagine or Victor Hugo’s famous speech on peace of 1851.
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