International Conference on the Relationship Between Disarmament and Development

11 September 1987 The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council representing some three (3) million people in 600 parishes throughout North and South America and whose Chairman is His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, lives by the principles and teachings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and by the traditions of the early church as handed down to us by the first seven Ecumenical Councils.

Though Orthodox Church has not traditionally held a pacifist position on the question of war, it has always seen war as evil.  When forced by events to become involved in war, Orthodox Christians continued to see war as an evil, and its termination was sought with prayers directed to God.

The threat of massive destruction by nuclear weapons and its cost in human lives, cultural and civilized values, economic resources, the pollution of nature, and its long lasting residual impact of human life make nuclear war a totally indefensible alternative.  International tensions as well as the proliferation of nuclear weapons among second and third world countries greatly increase the potential of the willed or accidental use of highly destructive nuclear weapons.  We believe that it is a spiritual and moral imperative that every effort be exercised with a sense of urgency to both stop the increase of nuclear weaponry and to resume the process of serious negotiations to reduce the already swollen capabilities of the superpowers and other nations.

In the light of international realities, to reduce the threat of nuclear war requires an end to the superpowers’ arms race and an immediate and drastic cut of their nuclear arsenals.

Pending the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, all nuclear weapon States must, as a first step, undertake unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries and nuclear free zones, and they must not be the first to use such weapons against each other at any time or under any circumstances.

A nuclear war may break out in unpredictable ways: either the major nuclear powers engage each other in a nuclear war from the very beginning, or they begin with a conventional war which may escalate into a nuclear conflict.  Therefore we must in no case lose sight of the danger of a conventional war while paying attention to the prevention of nuclear war.  Otherwise, the door may be left open for the outbreak of a nuclear war.  The harsh reality in the world today is that the enormous conventional military armaments in the possession of the superpowers are often used as a means of aggression and expansion.  While carrying out nuclear disarmament, the two superpowers should be urged also to take the lead in drastically reducing their huge conventional armaments.

In order to prevent war and safeguard world peace, it is essential for the people of the world to close ranks and wage a resolute struggle against all manifestations of hegemonism and expansionism.

The striving for disarmament should also be examined from the perspective that social and economic development is deprived of resources currently earmarked for weapons deployment.

The arms race has disastrous consequences for the poor who depend on resources for their existence.  While billions of dollars are spent upon weapons of war, people go hungry and homeless.

We agree with those who contend that the continuing arms race is absorbing far too great a proportion of the world’s human, financial, natural and technological resources, placing a heavy burden on the economies of all countries, and affecting the international flow of trade, finance and technology.

Growth and development with the elimination of poverty has been a cardinal goal of western and eastern churches through the centuries.  It is also a key way of contributing to a secure and stable environment, which can enhance the process of confidence building among states and reduce the need for armaments.

It is against this backdrop that an international framework should be developed by the United Nations to enhance peace and security through progress in disarmament and development.