In the face of enormous global challenges, from terrorism to climate change, the United Nations is the essential forum for world cooperation, Peruvian President Alan García told the General Assembly today.
“The first decade of this century was marked by the bloody attack of 11 September 2001 [by terrorists against the United States] and the worst economic crisis of the past 80 years,” he said on the opening day of the 192-member body’s annual session.
“This shows that we are facing enormous challenges that demand concerted action and solidarity from the entire international community. Here therefore, in the most important forum on the planet, Peru reaffirms its willingness to cooperate with the United Nations and the other countries to confront the challenges of climate change, terrorism, extreme poverty, the economic crisis, drug trafficking, the arms race and xenophobia.”
Peru, he said, is an example of “realistic, global, democratic and modern development,” attaining many of the UN’s anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) five years before the 2015 deadline, reducing poverty and improving nutrition, literacy, health and education.
Turning specifically to spending choices made by South American States, Mr. Garcia voiced shock that, in the six years since the Union of South American States was founded to promote integration and trust, the 10 countries have invested $25 billion in arms purchases and $150 billion in other military costs – a sum sufficient to have lifted 50 million people out of poverty.
“And in the next five years, if we don’t halt this arms build-up, we will spend a further $35 billion on arms purchases and $200 billion in other military costs, thus setting off an irrational race that will always find some reason to continue. But this absurdity that we are living in South America is unfolding with even greater seriousness on a world scale,” he said.
“Producing harmful drugs is as grave as consuming them in rich countries, but equally grave is producing arms for impoverished countries to buy, thus holding back their development and justice.”