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Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
Fifty - fourth  session (29 July - 16 August 2002)

Item 4:  Economic, social and cultural rights 

            “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense a theft from those who hunger and not fed-those who are cold and not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone-it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” 

            These splendid words were recited half a century ago by the greatest president the United States had known, President Dwight Eisenhower, a man who survived the tragic consequences of two devastating world wars.  He experienced them firsthand in his capacity as one of the highest military commanders during that painful period of bloodshed and destruction. 

            Evidently, research confirms that humanity is wasting third of its efforts on the manufacturing, trading and reserving of arms in a relentless and endless race for weapons.  This is a fact which has led two thirds of the world’s population to live in poverty and thousands of its children to face starvation daily.  Imagine if these enormous efforts could be shifted to agriculture as well as to the establishment of training schools and rewarding of teachers in the manner they deserve to be honored.  How, without a doubt, this would end poverty, diminish feelings of hatred, and restore stability and tranquillity among nations and people. 

Mr. Chairman, 

            We have mentioned on more than one occasion that racism and racial discrimination in its ethnic, religious and racial origins has, slowly but surely, begun to diminish.  Little by little, it is being replaced and re-manifested through a new scale designed to discriminate between nations and peoples on the basis of rich vs. Poor nations, developed vs. Developing countries, and in a more general sense, between nations which produce and export weapons, and nations which are often led into a hysteria of acquiring and depleting these weapons. 

            In the Dark Ages, weapons were invented by the primitive caveman from carved stones or sharpened sticks for self-defense against fierce animals or for sustenance, and was never intended for violence against other human beings.  How then can nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction and a fighter jet launching tons of bombs and missiles penetrating across continents be justified as defense arms in this time and age of the so called advanced and civilized world!!?  How can any of us be proud of deteriorating to such a state of human tyranny. 

            Undoubtedly, there has been continuous serious efforts during recent decades to limit this arms race and it has been a positive phenomenon to be encouraged had the world media and press been guided by intellectuals, scientists and human rights organizations.  However, today’s media and press are unfortunately directed and influenced by arms traders and brokers and the magnates of their circles throughout Europe and America. 

Mr. Chairman, 

            Two events happened during the past century of major significance in this regard.  The first involved the League of Nation’s World War I commemoration of the agreement to end the use of poison gas which nations have strictly adhered to since. 

            The second event involved almost every nation’s changing of the name of their Army Ministry to the Defense Ministry reflecting nations’ response to people’s loathing of war in all its forms and by all means.  Deriving from this worthwhile point, it could have been possible to divide arms into defense arms legitimately authorized, and offensive arms which should be banned as illegitimate.  Certainly United Nations committees and its experts can determine the various types of arms and classify them accordingly. 

            Just as the world community succeeded at banning the use of poison gas during the beginning of this century, it should be able to succeed at banning today’s illegitimate offensive arms.  Although we are aware of the difficulty of achieving this noble goal, we must exert every effort to succeed in this endeavor. 

            Perhaps one of the attempts to be considered is to ban the energy substance necessary for the manufacturing of these harmful weapons.  Fortunately, nations supplying the energy substance are not the nations producing weapons.  Therefore, OPEC nations, which will surely receive the support of public opinion, can stop supplying this energy to the manufacturers of offensive arms. 

Mr. Chairman, 

            This suggestion might be naive or even ridiculous, but there is consolation in what was said by the philosopher Schopenhauer, “all truth passes through three stages.  First, it is ridiculed.  Second, it is violently opposed.  Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” 

Thank you. 

6 August 2002