*** THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DISARMAMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
Written statement to the United Nations International Conference on the Relationship Between Disarmament and Development
New York, USA
24 August-11 September 1987
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The Founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah, made clear the relationship between disarmament and development more than 100 years ago, urging that "weapons of war" should be "converted into instruments of reconstruction." Writing to the leaders of the world, he said: "Compose your differences, and reduce your armaments, that the burden of your expenditures may be lightened, and that your minds and hearts may be tranquilized.... you are increasing your outlay every year, and are laying the burden thereof on your subjects. This, verily, is more than they can bear, and is a grievous injustice."
In this spirit, the Baha'i International Community offers the following observations on the connection between disarmament and development:
- Disarmament and development are interrelated. Funds used to make weapons are a drain on the national and world economies. Such funds could be better used to raise the living conditions of the world's peoples.
- The economic connection between disarmament and development represents only one side of the issue. A spiritual connection also exists. Resources spent for weapons drain not only national treasuries; they also drain the reservoirs of human hope and trust.
- The two issues must be approached in an integrated manner. Not only can disarmament further the cause of development; development can further the cause of disarmament. Indeed, the key to advancing the cause of both disarmament and development lies in fostering a sense of global unity. Unless unity is attained, true peace and security will remain out of reach.
The Baha'i International Community, representing more than 4 million Baha'is in 166 independent countries, has had long experience in working for world unity and world peace. Since the 1800s, Baha'is have called for a general disarmament and urged that the principle of collective security be pursued by the world's leaders. Concern for the world's social and economic development, likewise, has been a fundamental principle among Baha'is. Currently, Baha'is are involved in social and economic development efforts in more than 90 countries.
In October 1985 the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Baha'i Faith, issued a statement on the prospects for world peace. In that document, the connection between social needs and peace was clearly stressed:
"The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war. Few societies have dealt effectively with this situation. The solution calls for the combined application of spiritual, moral and practical approaches. A fresh look at the problem is required, entailing consultation with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines, devoid of economic and ideological polemics, and involving the people directly affected in the decisions that must urgently be made. It is an issue that is bound up not only with the necessity for eliminating extremes of wealth and poverty but also with those spiritual verities the understanding of which can produce a new universal attitude. Fostering such an attitude is itself a major part of the solution."
Disappointment, and even despair, over the failure of disarmament initiatives and inadequacy of development efforts is pervasive. To replace this with a sense of hope and with belief in the future, we must begin by appreciating the magnitude of change required to bring about thought and actions more appropriate to life-enhancing virtues and practices. The "world problematique" demands a radical transformation in the hearts and minds of mankind. We appear to be frozen in our present patterns of perception, employing old models and concepts. Such patterns have existed for centuries and are rooted in the concepts of nation states, national sovereignty, conflict and combat, winning and losing.
The watchword for a new approach must be unity. Only a fostering of the consciousness that "the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens" is capable of counteracting the despair and anxiety which afflict us. We offer the following ideas as part of a "curriculum of hope," part of a prescription for uplifting the human spirit in connection with the problems of disarmament and development.
** CRISIS AS OPPORTUNITY AND CHALLENGE
We witness around us an accelerating two-fold process of disintegration and integration. There is a breakdown of exhausted and inappropriate ideals, of archaic institutions and ideas, of empty customs and beliefs, while at the same time there is a burgeoning of new ideas, fresh discoveries in science, insights into human behavior, innovations in the management of human affairs. These perturbations and crises could give birth to new hope and promise and must be seen as opportunities for greater measures of creative human effort. The real enemies are not other nation-states, but ignorance, prejudice, greed, poverty, and disease. Such adversaries are far more worthy of our human and natural resources.
** HUMANITY COMES OF AGE
The turmoil, discontinuity and agitation of recent times are characteristic of an immature stage of growth. In terms of global development we must see ourselves moving, as a species, into a new age, preparing for bigger tasks, assuming wider loyalties, adopting a more universal purpose and direction, and cultivating collaboration and cooperation. If we forsake destructive, violent behavior -- behavior that is based on self-interest alone -- we free ourselves to build a new civilization with a global ethos.
** BRIDGING THE HUMAN GAP
In the words of the Club of Rome, we need to bridge the human gap which exists between our material, scientific and technological knowledge on the one side, and our ethical and moral standards, our spiritual maturity, and our collective sense of global purpose on the other. We need to learn how to nourish and engage our most underutilized, ubiquitous, renewable resource -- the complete human spirit. The complex nature of the world's problems and challenges will respond only to the fullest range of human skill and will. With such resources we can build a world civilization which will foster the free and full development of the individual.
** THE UNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE
There is a growing appreciation that people the world over share the same essential aspirations, hopes and desires based on their common humanity. These values, some of which are stated in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, can inspire our actions and reinforce our sense of oneness. The unity of the human race needs to be understood, promoted, explained and dramatized so that our interdependence will be seen as a necessary first step in the pursuit of the twin goals of disarmament and development.
** VISION OF THE FUTURE
To help us emerge from our feeling of despair and our sense of hopelessness we need a vision, an image of the future which can harness our energies and engage our dedication and sacrifice. Fortunately we have the technology, the skills, the resources to create the world anew. We can explore the options, and we can share our vision, hopes, and plans for the future. Baha'i s of the world are working towards this vision of a possible future:
"A world community in which all economic barriers will have been permanently demolished and the interdependence of capital and labor definitely recognized; in which the clamor of religious fanaticism and strife will have been forever stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will have been finally extinguished; in which a single code of international law -- the product of the considered judgment of the world's federated representatives -- shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated units; and finally a world community in which the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship -- such indeed, appears, in its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Baha'u'llah, an Order that shall come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing age." [From the Baha'i writings.]
Written statements received from Non-Governmental Organizations (Rule 45 of the provisional rules of procedure for the International Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development)
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UN Document #A/CONF.130/NGO/34