World Conference against racism: funding





World Conference on Racism: Funds for compensation not
for arms

At the World Conference of Racism, various calls for
financial redress 
or debt
cancellation have been made. Blacks have called for
compensation for 
enslavement,
indigenous peoples for sustained genocide, and
indebted counties for 
cancellation
of debt. All states that are implicated in the calls
for financial 
redress declare
that there is no money available to address these
issues. The member 
states
of the UN have an opportunity at this conference to
agree to 
substantially reduce
the military budget of over 800 billion dollars. and
to transfer the 
savings
into funding global social justice. 

Throughout the years, through international
agreements, member states 
of the
United Nations have recognized that the military
budget has been a 
waste and
misuse of resources. Unfortunately, institutional
memory is either 
short or
member states ignore precedents. 

In 1976 at Habitat 1, member states of the United
Nations affirmed the 
following
in relation to the military budget: 

"The waste and misuse of resources in war and
armaments should be 
prevented.
All countries should make a firm commitment to promote
general and 
complete
disarmament under strict and effective international
control, in 
particular
in the field of nuclear disarmament. Part of the
resources thus 
released should
be utilized so as to achieve a better quality of life
for humanity and 
particularly
the peoples of developing countries" (II, 12 Habitat
1).

In 1981, in the General Assembly resolution entitled
Resolution on the 
reduction
of the military budget, the member states 
(i) reaffirmed "the urgent need to reduce the military
budget, and 
agreed to
freeze and reduce the military budget";
(ii) recognised that "the military budget constitutes
a heavy burden 
for the
economies of all nations, and has extremely harmful
consequences on 
international
peace and security";
(iii) reiterated the appeal "to all States, in
particular the most 
heavily armed
States, pending the conclusion of agreements on the
reduction of 
military expenditures,
to exercise self-restraint in their military
expenditures with a view 
to reallocating
the funds thus saved to economic and social
development, particularly 
for the
benefit of developing countries" (Resolution on the
Reduction of 
Military budgets,
1981).

These appeals were further reinforced in a 1983
General Assembly 
Resolution
on the Relationship between Disarmament and
Development, that curbing 
the arms
build-up would make it possible to release additional
resources for use 
in economic
and social development, particularly for the benefit
of the developing 
countries."
Also in the 1993 resolution, member states considered
that "the 
magnitude of
military expenditures is now such that their various
implications can 
no longer
be ignored in the efforts pursued in the international
community to 
secure the
recovery of the world economy and the establishment of
a new 
international economic
order."

In 1994, in adopting the statement from the
International Conference on 
Population
and Development, the member states of the United
Nations concurred that 
the
attainment of "quantitative and qualitative goals of
the present 
Programme of
Action clearly require additional resources, some of
which could become 
available
from a reordering of priorities at the individual,
national and 
international
levels. However, none of the actions required-nor all
of them combined- 
is expensive
in the context of either current global development or
military 
expenditures."
(Article 1.19) 

In 1995, similarly, states in adopting the statement
from the Social 
Development
Summit endorsed the calling for "the reallocation of
military spending 
to ensure
a greater pocket of resources to expand public
services. Again, in 
1995, member
states of the United Nations reconfirmed these
commitments by adopting 
the Platform
of Action at the UN conference on Women, Equality,
Development and 
Peace. In
the Platform of Action, States have made a commitment
to maintain 
"peace and
security at the global, regional and local levels,
together with the 
prevention
of policies of aggression ... and the resolution of
armed conflict" 
(Art. 14)
and to reduce "...military expenditures" (Art. 15),
states have also 
made a
commitment to the "prevention and resolution of
conflicts" (Art.15) and 
to "increase
and hasten, ... the conversion of military resources
and related 
industries
to development and peaceful purposes" (145a).

In the 1984 General Assembly Resolution entitled the
Right of Peoples 
to Peace,
there were "Appeals to all States and international
organizations to do 
their
utmost to assist in implementing the right of peoples
to peace through 
the adoption
of ...measures at both the national and the
international level." (4. 
Declaration
on the Right of Peoples to Peace approved by General
Assembly 
resolution 39/11
of 12 November 1984)


Currently the Global Community spends more than $800
billion per year 
on the
military budget at a time when many basic and
fundamental rights have 
not been
fulfilled: the right to affordable and safe housing;
the right to 
unadulterated
food (pesticide-free and genetically engineered-free
food); the right 
to safe
drinking water; the right to a safe environment; the
right to 
universally accessible,
not for profit health care; and the right to free and
accessible 
education.
In addition, years of redress and assistance to those
who have been 
oppressed
should be compensated and "third world debt canceled.
The time is now 
at the
World Conference on Racism, 

Joan Russow (PhD). Co-ordinator, Global Compliance
Research Project
1230 St. Patrick Street.Victoria, B.C. V8S 4Y4 Canada.
1 250 598-0071


                                                      
    
                                                


   
                                                      
               
           
                                     


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