Oral Intervention to Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament

25 giugno 1988

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council representing some three 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 the Orthodox Church has not traditionally held a pacifist position on the question of unprovoked war, it has always seen war as evil.

The threat of massive destruction by nuclear weapons and the loss in human lives, cultural and civilized values, economic resources, the pollution of nature, and its long lasting residual impact on human life make nuclear war a totally indefensible cause.

International tensions as well as the proliferation of nuclear weapons 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 put an end to the increase of nuclear weaponry and to maintain the process of serious negotiations to reduce the already swollen capabilities of the superpowers and other nations.

In the light of international realities, it is imperative for us to appeal for a reduction and immediate and drastic cut of the nuclear arsenals.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council commends the recently concluded agreement on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range nuclear missiles between the two major powers and their respective alliances.  The prospects for an agreement on a fifty percent reduction in nuclear weapons are also a positive sign, which we wholeheartedly endorse.

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

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, under no circumstances.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council commends the important progress registered within the framework of the recent Stockholm Conference on Confidence and Security-Building Measures held in January 1988.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council further condemns the use of chemical weapons which are just as disastrous to the human being as nuclear war and welcomes the important progress made in the area of chemical weapons in the Conference on Disarmament held in Geneva. These decisions will have an important impact on the future of disarmament.  (Conference held in February 1988).

Multilaterism as well as the central role of the United Nations in the process of disarmament should be reaffirmed.  Peace and security are universal requirements for all states by duly taken into account but their concrete contribution to the process must be sought.

We realize that the arms race has dire consequences especially for the poor whose meager resources it devours at an increasing pace.  Yet we do not despair.  We continue to believe in the power of prayer and together we trust that God will lead humanity out of this wilderness.  It is not too late to develop a shared notion of common security among the inescapably interdependent nations of the world.

People of religion have a special role to play in these matters by:

  1. Promoting good neighbor policy among peoples
  2. Increasing contacts across lines of division
  3. Improving spiritual and devotional life of human communities
  4. Helping to erase prejudicial enemy images
  5. Intensifying education for peace through peace corps.