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Med Confl Surviv. 2000 Jan-Mar;16(1):108-16.

Global action to prevent war: a programme for government and grassroots efforts to stop war, genocide and other forms of deadly conflict.

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Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington DC 20036, USA.


At the end of history's bloodiest century and the outset of a new millennium, we have an opportunity to fulfil one of humanity's oldest dreams: making the world largely free of war. Global changes make this goal achievable. Nuclear weapons have shown the folly of war. For the first time, there is no war and no immediate prospect of war among the main military powers. For the first time, many proven measures to prevent armed conflict, distilled in the crucible of this century's wars, are available. If systematically applied, these measures can sharply decrease the frequency and violence of war, genocide, and other forms of deadly conflict. To seize the opportunity, nations should adopt a comprehensive programme to reduce conventional armaments and armed conflict. This programme will complement and strengthen efforts to eliminate nuclear arms. To assure its ongoing worldwide implementation, the conventional reduction programme should be placed in a treaty framework. We propose a four-phased process, with three treaties, each lasting five to ten years, to lay the groundwork for the fourth treaty, which will establish a permanent international security system. The main objectives of the treaties are to achieve: 1. A verified commitment to provide full transparency on conventional armed forces and military spending, not to increase forces during negotiations on arms reductions, and to increase the resources allocated to multilateral conflict prevention and peacekeeping. 2. Substantial worldwide cuts in national armed forces and military spending and further strengthening of United Nations and regional peacekeeping and peace-enforcement capabilities. 3. A trial of a watershed commitment by participating nations, including the major powers, not to deploy their armed forces beyond national borders except in a multilateral action under UN or regional auspices. 4. A permanent transfer to the UN and regional security organizations of the authority and capability for armed intervention to prevent or end war, accompanied by further substantial cuts in national armed forces and increases in UN and regional forces. This programme offers many valuable features: a global framework for conventional forces that parallels the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; a verified no-increase commitment for national armed forces based on full data exchange; a commitment to undertake prescribed confidence-building measures, including limits on force activities and deployments; a commitment to a specified plan for increased funding of UN and regional peacekeeping capabilities; a commitment to strengthen international legal institutions; and after a trial period, a lasting commitment by each participant not to unilaterally deploy its armed forces beyond its borders, but instead to give the responsibility for peacekeeping and peace enforcement to international institutions. This programme of phased steps to reduce armed forces and strengthen peacekeeping institutions will make war rare. It will foster the spread of zones of peace like those in North America and Western Europe where, after centuries of violence, international and civil war have given way to the peaceful settlement of disputes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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