What can be Done

It will be very difficult to achieve real reductions in military activity and eradicate poverty (Table 1.4). Arms expenditure has increased in the last 20 years, development aid has decreased, and there has been little improvement in trade opportunities for developing countries.

To reduce military activity, the United Nations Security Council urgently needs radical reform, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child must be enforced, and we need an effective arms trade treaty - such as the one suggested by Amnesty and Oxfam (Southall, 2002; Chanaa, 2004).

Arms dealing should be allowed only through the United Nations, solely for defence purposes (Southall, 2002). All other brokering in arms should be illegal (as with the drug trade). The numbers and kinds of weapons traded should be published - only three countries do this at present. Some progress has been made in enforcing ethical trading in arms by European Union countries, but not the United States (Southall, 2002).

Hundreds of illegal arms dealers, companies, banks and smugglers are already known, but there have been no convictions for violations of United Nations arms embargoes (Southall, 2002). The United Nations needs to develop an effective force to aggressively police improved controls in illegal arms trading and associated activities such as money laundering and smuggling.

Unfortunately, many developed countries make a lot of money from selling weapons, and some factions in developing countries seek to maintain or gain power by force whatever the cost to their societies. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council account for 90% of weapons sales to developing

Table 1.4. Changes needed to reduce warfare

Urgent reform of UN Security Council Permanent Members reduce military activity Enforce UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Effective arms trade treaty (eg Amnesty model) Arms sales only for defence, and only via UN Publication of number and type of weapons sold Effective UN force to police illegal arms trading countries (Chanaa, 2002), yet they are the very countries who have accepted the responsibility for ensuring world security. The United States of America made a very substantial contribution to Europe's recovery after the Second World War, and has the ability to substantially reduce military activity in the world. Unfortunately, as Laurence Korb, an Assistant Secretary of Defence in the Reagan administration, has pointed out, the United States has not tried to curb the arms trade because of greed and a reluctance to accept limitations on its sovereignty (Korb, 2003). The United States exports more military hardware than the rest of the world combined, is the source of 41% of weapons exports to developing countries, gave the second lowest percentage of its GDP as overseas aid in 2004, rejects the International Criminal Court, rejects the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Somalia is the only other non-signatory), refuses to sign the protocol to enforce the treaty banning biological weapons, and refuses to support plans to curtail the illegal trade in small arms (as this might impair its own citizens' "right to bear arms") (Southall, 2002).

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment