Global military spending stood at over 1500 billion dollars a year at the end of the Cold War. It never fell below 1000 billion standing at c 1050 at its lowest in 1998. Now the world is again spending close to 1800 billion dollars a year for military purposes. That power politics and the use of military force has made a return to world politics is undeniable, but this has not made the world a safer place nor brought any sustainable and acceptable solutions to any of the issues that led to the use of military power. Even Russia has to recognize, that the costs of its actions in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine have far passed any potential or hoped for economic benefits or in any way increased the welfare of the Russian people.
Military spending contributes nothing positive to the greatest global challenges of climate change, unsustainable development, disease and poverty. Resources used for military spending are sorely needed to answer these real challenges, and failure to do so will only increase the demand for even more military spending as these failures lead to new conflicts and threats to security.
Against this general background it is clear, that thee recent changes in the European political and military environment, also call for renewed focus on disarmament and arms control.
In the present situation it is all the more important to promote arms control and to build basis for further steps and action – even though this is difficult.
We all subscribe, at least in principle, to the goal of universal and global disarmament and putting an end the development and use of any weapons. However since this is not about to realized anytime in the foreseeable future we need to focus on what is achievable and will contribute to a safer world.
This approach is sometimes questioned by purists, who assert that since all weapons are used to kill people we should not engage in efforts to ban only certain kinds of weapons or restrict their deployment and use, since this would only serve to indirectly legitimize the use of unbanned weapons. While this approach has logical and ethical merits I don’t subscribe to it. I believe that even partial arms control increases stability, transparency and confidence.
Thus we should welcome and support also all limited initiatives, whether they are geographically, technically or user, weapon or situation limited, as long as they are fully implemented, monitored and do not put up obstacles for going further.
This morning we already discusses the prospects for nuclear disarmament after the disappointing NPT review conference, and I wont repeat what has already been said, but to re-emphasize that we still need to work for both global nuclear disarmament as well as all possible smaller steps both to reduce nuclear arsenals as well as to strengthen the NPT regime.
Despite the lack of progress in disarmament and the failure of the NPT Review Conference to agree on an outcome document there has been some progress in other fields.
After years of hard work the Arms Trade Treaty finally entered into force in December last year. This is a significant achievement for the international community. It is also one the most concrete international disarmament efforts in recent years.
We have also seen progress on Chemical weapons. After the horrendous chemical attacks in Gouta, Damascus in August 2013, we witnessed how the OPCW and the international community strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and was determined to follow through with the dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.
More recently we have seen the Iran agreement. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a historic achievement and possibility. The comprehensive agreement together with robust IAEA monitoring and verification can provide us with guarantees that Iranian nuclear activities are peaceful.
Agreement is important for the non-proliferation regime. It may also promotes peace and stability in the Middle East more broadly.
In times when common security, cooperation and principles are being tested and challenged we should continue to protect and strengthen the commitments and norms that are vital for the international security and mutual trust.