19 juni 1987 The United Nations sponsored its first Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development in New York from August 24th to September 11th. Delegates to the conference considered how such processes as disarmament and development can enhance security and how improved security can help both disarmament and development.
In his opening statement at the conference Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar stated that “the link between security, disarmament and development had very much been in the mind of the framers of the Charter. However, contrary to their expectations, an ever-spiralling arms race during the last four decades had been consuming a proportion of global resources, both in the industrialized and developing countries, which had increasingly become intolerable.”
“Security” he continued is a “legitimate concern of all states. However, living under the nuclear shadow, security could no longer be perceived in military terms alone.”
Governments should see their security more in health, education and opportunities open to their people rather than in the size of their armed forces.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council was invited to participate in the United Nations Conference on Disarmament and Development. Its UN Representative, Lila Prounis, in delivering the Archdiocese’s oral statement to the delegates pointed out that 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.
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.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council, a Non-Governmental Organization, at the United Nations has consultative status in Category I. Its representatives have participated in several major UN Conferences including the recent UN Conference on Drug Abuse held in Vienna last June.