Holy See Outlines Disarmament Issues

Despite Economic Crisis, Military Spending Increased

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is outlining several achievements toward the goal of global disarmament, but is urging the United Nations to recognize some issues as well.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, affirmed this today in an address to the first committee of the general assembly’s 64th session.

He underlined the expectations of “those suffering and struggling because of armed conflicts and violence” who look to the United Nations for “tangible and convincing results in the hope of seeing a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The prelate affirmed the need for “strict controls over arms trade, which in our day is strongly embedded in illicit markets and causing serious damage to humanity.”

He noted that last year, despite the “acute economic crisis,” military expenditures increased by 4% and totalled some $1.46 billion.

“The world is watching while we are entering once again into discussions on disarmament issues,” the archbishop said.

He continued: “The main role of the disarmament machinery is to reduce military expenditures through arms control and disarmament so that the international community can progressively de-weaponize security.”

One way of doing this, Archbishop Migliore proposed, is by strengthening multilateralism.

“There are positive signs that disarmament is returning to the multilateral agenda,” he added.

New momentum

The prelate stated that “a new political climate and momentum on the part of major players in disarmament is observed and recognized.”

To illustrate this, he pointed to “the adoption of a new Convention on Cluster Munitions; the renewed commitments to achieve a mine-free world; many initiatives undertaken by Governments, international organizations, NGOs and civil society organizations in promoting disarmament in all its aspects; constructive and promising exchanges in the process towards an Arms Trade Treaty.”

The prelate underlined the Holy See’s commitment “to advancing the works on an Arms Trade Treaty, as a legally binding instrument on import, export and transfer of arms.”

He continued: “Weapons cannot be considered as any other good exchanged on the global, regional or national market, and their excessive stock-piling or indiscriminate trading — especially to conflict-affected areas — cannot, by any means, be morally justified.”

The archbishop also pointed out some unresolved issues regarding disarmament.

Among these, he noted that after 13 years, “the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has not yet entered into force, lacking only nine ratifications while we continue to witness nuclear tests.”

As well, Archbishop Migliore stated, “persistent obstacles hamper negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.”

He continued: “A few states have yet to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“An international Programme of Action to stem the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons still faces many challenges in achieving its goals. And the international community lacks multilateral legal norms concerning missiles.”

The prelate ended by calling for definitive solutions, “so that international security is provided with well-functioning multilateral organisms.”

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-27115?l=english

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