UN Disarmament Week

Today (October 24) also marks the start of the UN Disarmament Week (October 24-30), which is usually overshadowed by its more famous counterpart UN observation, UN Day, also celebrated on October 24. Yet it bears repetition that the UN concerns about disarmament too stem from the devastating experiences of WW2, where nuclear weapons were used for the first and only time so far when the United States decimated the Japanese industrial cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the mere push of a button. Since then more generally, and since 1978 more specifically, the UN has repeatedly strived to caution against the use and proliferation of all kinds of weapons. Yet what is also not lost is the fact that we live in a world of double-standards where some countries are allowed to stockpile the latest weapons and also freely trade with and supply them to selected states; while for other states which seek to redress the balance, there are sanctions and punishments. Clearly we see these double standards in the cases of Israel, Iran and North Korea.

Israel has an undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons exposed by one of its own citizens since long, which goes unchecked, while any attempt by Iran and North Korea to invoke the same right of self-defence claimed by Israel is met with international rebuke and punishment. Until world standards on armament and disarmament are applied equivocally, there can be no hope for disarmament and an end to warfare. As I write this, the world is beset by increased warfare relying on trade and supply of the latest weapons around the world, whether it is Asia, Africa or even Latin America. Another related issue is that annually there is millions of dollars’ worth of illicit trade in weapons, which too goes unchecked. These lines are being written in a country which shares one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world with its giant neighbour India. Both countries have gone to war three times and are nuclear-armed; in fact the entire neighborhood is nuclear armed, the other states being China, Iran and Iran’s neighbor Israel. Of scant consolation is the fact that the word’s most heavily militarized border also exists in Asia, across the Korean peninsula. One hopes that these states would sooner or later realize the dangers of war and nuclear proliferation and give disarmament a chance; which would free up resources for the well-being and development of their benighted people. On a lighter notes, today also marks the day when both India and Pakistan play their inaugural matches against each other in the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup. May the game of cricket win. If only disarmament was like cricket!