The United Nations was established 75 years ago, emerging from the rubble of the Second World War with a primary goal to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and a secondary goal to “promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources”.
In order to advance the goal of disarmament, UN Secretary-General António Guterres released a report in 2018 entitled Securing our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament. The report outlines a set of practical measures across the entire range of disarmament issues, including weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms and future weapon technologies. It also draws the connections between disarmament, peace and sustainable development.
Engagement of parliamentarians from across the political spectrum is vital to take forward these disarmament measures in order to enhance peace, security, democracy and economic wellbeing of people around the world, and to protect the planet.
The importance of disarmament has become even more self-evident in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Armed conflict and flows of arms that fuel armed conflict, prevent or subvert the public health measures required to control pandemics. In addition, large military budgets drain the financial resources required for economic recovery. Good public health systems, science and evidence-based policies, international cooperation, informed civil society and peace are the ‘weapons’ to combat pandemics, not guns or bombs.
We encourage parliamentarians everywhere to use the background information, recommendations, policy examples and additional resources in this handbook to advance disarmament initiatives which are relevant to their respective national and regional situations. And we encourage members of civil society to inform and support their elected representatives to take such action on their behalf.
Together we can build a more peaceful, less weaponized world for the benefit of current and future generations.