By Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations
We all get energized whenever we absorb the essence of the following message conveyed by President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
These words become even more meaningful as those are from a military General.
With this pertinent message in mind, the fourth meeting in the annual Dialogue on the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence focusing on the theme, “Advancing the Cause of Disarmament for Development” was held on 2 October 2017. The Soka University of America in California launched the initiative three years ago to provide a platform for dialogue on the culture of peace as an essential transformational change that humanity needs to embrace in the best interest of our world. This year’s theme is most appropriate given the increasing tensions throughout the world amid the reality of growing nuclear and military proliferation, while at the same time success in poverty reduction continues to be an elusive objective as income and gender inequality become more pronounced with increasing disparity and depravation. Given this reality, the disarmament for development agenda highlights the importance of understanding the tradeoff between using resources for military proliferation versus directing them toward expanding elimination of poverty and ensuring sustainable development for our people and our planet.
As we know very well, militarism and militarization are probably the world’s largest barrier to ending poverty. Military and weapons spending takes away the resources that should have otherwise been devoted to human needs.
This year’s keynote speaker was South African Parliamentarian Ms. Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma.
October 2nd is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. The UN designated it as the International Day of Non-Violence.
According to General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.” The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence.”