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World's Largest Humanitarian Meeting Takes Position against Nuclear Weapons
an article by International Committee of the Red Cross (excerpts)

The 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the world's largest humanitarian conference, took place in Geneva from 28 November to 1 December 2011. This quadrennial event brings together the States party to the Geneva Conventions, the world's National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In a unique forum for debate on humanitarian action, some 2,000 delegates adopted a series of resolutions on action to reinforce humanitarian response to natural disaster and armed conflict . . .

A one-day meeting of the Movement's Council of Delegates, on 26 November, preceded the International Conference. This event brought together all the components of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. One of the main highlights of the 2011 Council of Delegates was a Movement position on nuclear weapons.

The Council discussed a series of resolutions, including a milestone resolution entitled "Working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons," which defines the position of the Movement regarding the use, production and elimination of nuclear weapons. The resolution appeals to States to ensure that nuclear weapons are never again used, and to pursue with urgency and determination negotiations to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons through a binding international agreement . . .

The 31st International Conference was a major multilateral meeting of the humanitarian world. It helped shape global debate on international humanitarian law (IHL) and on strengthening humanitarian action, while demonstrating the crucial humanitarian role of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement worldwide.

A wealth of ideas and new thinking emerged from the debates in plenary, commissions, workshops and side events. The Conference also provided the opportunity for National Societies to meet, to debate and to strengthen their strategic support roles, reinforcing the unity of the Movement despite the complex political and economic dynamics currently shaping the global environment.

The resolutions relating to nuclear weapons, strengthening IHL, Health Care in Danger, and disaster laws are of particular significance because they will help set priorities and lay out the path ahead for the Movement. These resolutions will in turn continue to shape debate on current humanitarian needs . . .

The next International Conference will take place in late 2015, and the next Council of Delegates meeting in 2013. Meanwhile, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement will continue its daily work of saving lives, and of protecting and assisting those in need around the world.

(Click here for a French version of this article) or here for a Spanish version of this article

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LATEST READER COMMENT:

'THE WORLD IS OVER-ARMED AND PEACE IS UNDER-FUNDED'

30 August 2012 The following opinion piece by Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon has appeared in leading newspapers in Argentina, Bangladesh, Burundi, China, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, The Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and European weekly publications and has been translated into 10 languages.

Last month, competing interests prevented agreement on a much-needed treaty that would have reduced the appalling human cost of the poorly regulated international arms trade. Meanwhile, nuclear disarmament efforts remain stalled, despite strong and growing global popular sentiment in support of this cause.

The failure of these negotiations and this month's anniversaries of the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki provide a good opportunity to explore what has gone wrong, why disarmament and arms control have proven so difficult to achieve, and how the world community can get back on track towards these vitally important goals.

Many defence establishments now recognize that security means far more than protecting borders. Grave security concerns can arise as a result of demographic trends, chronic poverty, economic inequality, environmental degradation, pandemic diseases, organized crime, repressive governance and other developments no state can control alone. Arms can't address such concerns.

Yet there has been a troubling lag between recognizing these new security challenges, and launching new policies to address them. National budget priorities still tend to reflect the old paradigms. Massive military spending and new investments in modernizing nuclear weapons have left the world over-armed -- and peace under-funded.

Last year, global military spending reportedly exceeded $1.7 trillion more than $4.6 billion a day, which alone is almost twice the UN's budget for an entire year. This largesse includes billions more for modernizing nuclear arsenals decades into the future.

This level of military spending is hard to explain in a post-Cold War world and amidst a global financial crisis. Economists would call this an "opportunity cost". . ...more.


This report was posted on January 10, 2012.