Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed a civil society initiative that aims to raise awareness about the importance of reducing military spending and ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
“This impressive petition from more than five million young people of faith from all regions is testament to a groundswell of civil society backing for these goals,” Mr. Ban told participants at the meeting in New York of Religions for Peace.
In a message delivered by Sergio Duarte, UN High Representative for Disarmament, the Secretary-General noted that world military expenditure has risen by 50 per cent since 2000 to more than $1.5 trillion.
“This money could surely have been much better spent on poverty reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation, food and nutrition security, women’s and children’s health, and other global development challenges,” he stated.
Mr. Ban welcomed the contribution that the group’s “Arms Down! Global Youth Campaign for Shared Security” is making to raising awareness about the importance of cutting military expenditure and promoting a nuclear-weapons-free world.
Increasing momentum on these issues has been among the Secretary-General’s key priorities since taking office in 2007.
In October 2008, the UN chief presented an action plan on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation that begins with a call for the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament, either through a new convention or through a series of mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a credible system of verification.
In addition, the plan is based on the following key principles: that disarmament must enhance security; be reliably verified; be rooted in legal obligations; be visible to the public; and must anticipate emerging dangers from other weapons.
“Disarmament and non-proliferation are essential not simply for international peace and security, but across the international agenda,” he noted today.
“They can foster confidence among nations and strengthen regional and international stability. They are integral to realizing the vision of the United Nations Charter.”