On 30 November 1981, the United Nations General Assembly, in resolution A/RES/36/67, declared an international day of peace. This resolution recognized that “the promotion of peace, both at an international and a national level, is among the main purposes of the United Nations, in conformity with its Charter”. Since 1915, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has worked to promote peace by non-violent means, promoting political, economic and social justice for all.
World military expenditures are estimated to have been USD 1,339 billion in 2007, or about 202 spent for every person on earth. Article 26 of the UN Charter obliges the UN Security Council to “promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least division for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources”, and the Security Council has failed to meet this obligation. You get what you pay for, and when governments of the world decide to prioritize peace building through education, health care, strengthening public infrastructures, and sustainable development over the purchase of arms, then these governments will begin walking down the path towards peace and break the military spending- poverty cycle.
WILPF calls on all governments to allocate one day of their military expenditures USD 3,668,493,151 towards addressing a real security threat such as catastrophic climate change. We must have a paradigm shift in resource allocation. We can meet this challenge, but only if we are prepared to face the fact that bombs, guns, cluster bombs and landmines will not deter or remove the threat of a Tsunami, a hurricane, a flood, a virus, or a water shortage. WILPF rejects the idea that the military industry and the weapons trade bring jobs, prosperity or security. The arms trade has turned people into mercenaries and parts of our planet into cemeteries.
Misusing words such as ‘safety’ and ‘protection’, military security concepts and weapons profiteers develop machines that threaten and violate the human right to life and freedom. This year, 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in order that all peoples enjoy all human rights military and national security concepts that rely on weaponization and militarization must shift towards a holistic human security concept that recognizes people not profits, sustainability not strife, multilateralism not militarism.
In the name of ‘democracy’, powerful actors make profits at the expense of our planet its finite resources and the rights of future generations to exist. In the name of ‘increasing women’s role in peace and security’, more women are militarized and sent to war zones, which is a distorted application of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. WILPF believes that the concepts of safety and security must shift so that they include the full enjoyment of all human rights for all away from military and national security concepts.
Peace is more than the absence of war. On this International Day of Peace, WILPF calls for the peoples of the world to lay down their arms and raise their voices for peace and freedom, for there cannot be one without the other.