A gathering of profound importance for the entire world community is gaining momentum as the convening date approaches. The event is the second United Nations Special Session on Disarmament (SSD II) to begin on June 7, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Scheduled to last five weeks. SSD II will have the participation of virtually all 156 Member States of the U.N., with many delegations led by heads of State, and others by foreign ministers, Ambassador Ismat Killani of Iraq will preside over the meeting.
The responsibility for organizing the disarmament session is charged to the Preparatory Committee, which was established by the 35th session of the General Assembly, and consists of delegations from 78 nations. This committee held a total of 29 meetings in 1981, with most of the work directed to creating a provisional agenda for SSD II. Highlights of this agenda include:
* general debate during the first weeks
* consideration and adoption of the Comprehensive Program of Disarmament
* implementation of the Declaration of the 1980s as the Second Disarmament Decade
* enhancing the effectiveness of machinery in the field of disarmament and strengthening the role of the United Nations in this field, including the possibility of convening a World Disarmament Conference
* measures to mobilize public opinion in favor of disarmament
The man agenda item is the Comprehensive Programme of Disarmament. A Working Group of the Disarmament Commission, which was established by the U.N. in 1978, is working to complete this program. The Chairman is Ambassador Garcia Robles of Mexico, who recently told the General Assembly that the present concept is for a four-stage Program with a five-year duration for each stage.
The timing and purpose of SSD II carries the hopes of people in every land who understand the great imperative of our time is to stop the arms race and move to controlled disarmament with security. This need was bluntly expressed in the Final Document of the first U.N. disarmament session in 1978. "Mankind is confronted with a choice: we must halt the arms race and proceed to disarmament or face annihilation."
This is all too clear when we review the incredible overkill nuclear arsenal already in place. For example, the Soviet Union how has 20,000 nuclear bombs stockpiled, with 7,000 nuclear warheads aimed at the United States. At the same time the United States has 25,000-30,000 nuclear bombs stockpiled, with 10,000 aimed at the Soviet Union. And yet in spite of this amazing overkill stockpile, we are currently engaged in a massive escalation of the arms race. An example of this escalation is manafest in President Reagan's astronomical $1.5 trillion military spending plan for the next five years, including a $180 billion nuclear weapons program that will add 10,000 atomic warheads to our arsenal.
The reality is that we cannot continue in this manner without virtually ensuring a nuclear war, whether through accident, miscalculation, or design. In this regard it is foolish to become involved in a numbers game concerning the quantity of missiles and warheads in the possession of each super-power. The numbers are already so vast they exceed any realm of reason: thus every new weapon added to either stockpile makes all of us less secure.
The crisis in which we find ourselves results from decades of national policies which have been predicated on a cold war perspective of the world that have a relation to the needs of humanity, or to the global politics that are necessary to resolve today's problems. These policies have let to purposely designed confrontation politics, efforts to dominate the world's resources and markets an economy that is geared to military production, and strategic scenarios which now include the potential of a nuclear pre-emptive attack (first-strike) the fantasy of waging "limited" nuclear war, and retaliation programs in which the casualties are figured in hundreds of millions of human beings.
It is clear that a great change in attitudes and policies is imperative, and yet as we view the world scene it is equally obvious that no single nation has the moral record or credibility to lead the movement for progressive change. At the same time, while most national leaders engage in a great deal of public moralizing and high sounding rhetoric, it is, for the most part, spurious, designed for purely poltical reasons for the cold war school.
The movement for disarmament, security, and building the foundation for a world community, where lasting peace and progress are possible, must come from concerned people: individuals and organizations who are willing to work cooperatively while demanding that all governments and societies adopt programs for disarmament and peace.