"The need is collective international security"
Statement by the World Federation of Trade Unions
Alarmed by the increasing threats to global peace and security, millions of people — men, women and children — have taken part in peace marches in Europe, America and other continents. The most recent peace march in Florence protesting, in particular, against the war planned against Iraq, is considered as the largest in the region in recent times. Widely recognised as the conscience of humankind, these peace marches call for effective steps by the UN and member governments to uphold the principles of the UN Charter and work for peace and security, and use all available resources to deal with the mounting economic and social problems — and, in particular, to eliminate poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and underemployment and other acute social problems. The working people and trade unions the world over are bound to ask these very questions to the Heads of States and Governments who are coming to Prague for the NATO SUMMIT November on 21-22 this year. It is claimed by the organisers that the Prague Summit of NATO leaders is designed to take forward the further transformation of the Alliance. Instead of implementing the UN decisions to promote disarmament for development, the biggest military powers continue to increase their military budgets and pressures are put on other NATO member countries to act likewise. New members are being recruited to join the Alliance. A new round of the nuclear arms race including star wars projects is about to begin. That is why the WFTU and other civil society organisations want to urge the NATO Summit not to escalate the military budgets and the arms race but agree to implement UN decisions to promote disarmament for development. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Global military spending in 2001 amounted to US$839 billion. The 15 major spenders account for over three-quarters of world military spending. Five countries account for over half. The United States accounts for 36 per cent, followed by Russia with six per cent and France, Japan and the UK with about five per cent each. High income countries also have the highest per capita spending. In some of these countries, annual military expenditure exceeds US$1000 per capita. The time has come to insist that this huge diversion of development resources to military budgets and an arms race must end and that all military alliances disband. Like the institutions for European Security which already exist, all states should promote and establish mechanisms for collective security at the international and regional levels.