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BRIEFING  - September 10, 2014

To learn more about the Millenium Development Goals, click on the graphic

Read the summer 2014 “Dominicans at the UN” newsletter

Past Briefings:

July 16, 2014
Signs of the Earth’s degradation: Do we care?

July 2, 2014
Access to clean, potable water is a human right

June 18, 2014
Special rapporteur on Right to Food concludes final term

June 4, 2014
A report from the Indigenous Peoples Forum

May 7, 2014
Mentoring and motivating future leaders at the UN

April 9, 2014
Gender equality: He for She Campaign

March 19, 2014
Dominican Sisters International and Yale University at the UN

March 5, 2014
Social protection floors reduce inequality, create security

Feb 19, 2014
‘Humanity divided’: Inequality a barrier to development

Jan 8, 2014
Voices of Femicide

Nov 22, 2013
Superstorm Haiyan: ‘A climate nightmare’ in the Philippines

Oct 23, 2013
From food security to food sovereignty

Oct 9, 2013
Lampedusa shipwreck spotlights perils of migration

Sept 25, 2013
Ban Ki-moon: ‘A life of dignity for all’

Sept 11, 2013
Syria: ‘The only certainty is uncertainty’

July 10, 2013
RIO + 20 one year later… Part II

June 26, 2013
RIO + 20 one year later… Where are we?

June 12, 2013
Saving future generations from the scourge of war

May 8, 2013
Hunger, nutrition, and climate justice: A new dialogue

April 24, 2013
Social Protection Floor: A feasible way to alleviate poverty

Nuclear arms hindering sustainable development

By Kelly Litt, Dominican Volunteer

The 65th Annual UN Department of Public Information (DPI)/NGO Conference took place last month at the UN Headquarters in New York. At this conference, civil society gathered to help shape and influence the new vision for sustainable development in the post-2015 development agenda. This conference hosted by the UN Department of Public Information and the Executive Committee of NGOs presented panel discussions, roundtable talks, and workshop sessions that focused on some of the biggest issues of the times such as poverty eradication, sustainable development, human rights, and climate change.

One notable workshop session was sponsored by the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic and the Congregation of Notre Dame for UN Relationships, which aimed to discuss how nuclear weapons are severely hindering sustainability and development. The session, titled “Sustainability and Nuclear Weapons?” addressed the impact of nuclear weapons on achieving a sustainable world.

This workshop explained that the two largest threats to a sustainable world are climate change and nuclear arms. The survival of the earth and survival of humans is one in the same, yet one of the most unconsidered horrors of the nuclear age may be the destruction that it causes to nature. The mining of materials for constructing nuclear arms leaves toxic, radioactive, and contaminated waste behind. This waste is often in the lands of the world’s indigenous peoples and the world’s poorest peoples.

According to Greenpeace International the production of nuclear weapons pollutes vast amounts of soil and water all over the world. Many of the substances released into the water and soil, including plutonium, uranium, mercury, and cyanide, “are carcinogenic and mutagenic and remain hazardous for thousands, some for hundreds of thousands, of years.” This is detrimental to the vision of a sustainable earth.

Increasing amounts of nuclear weapons also takes away from the intellectual skills necessary to combat climate change and other global issues. As Dr. I.I. Russin of Moscow State University said, “The quest of solutions to ecological problems is impossible without the curbing of the arms race, for the arms race absorbs tremendous intellectual and material resources of mankind.” The nuclear arms race is preventing time, energy, and resources from being used for positive changes in the world.

Yet pursuing sustainable development without addressing war and nuclear arms will be unsuccessful. The more nuclear arsenals are modernized, the less security there will be. The United States alone has spent billions of dollars to modernize their nuclear arsenal. These nuclear arsenals are unstable and dangerous, and it is, in fact, immature to continue to threaten the annihilation of humankind as a viable option for security.

Every U.S. president since Eisenhower and every Secretary-General of the United Nations has warned against the destruction and danger that can result from nuclear arms. Article 26 of the Charter of the United Nations likewise explains that in order to establish and maintain international peace and security, armaments should be closely regulated.

Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals currently sets out to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.” Rather than expanding and modernizing arsenals and nuclear weapons, military expenditures should be reduced to pave way for human development. The world must work together for the abolition of nuclear weapons in order to achieve sustainable development and security.

At the conclusion of the DPI/NGO Conference, an outcome document declaration was presented and adopted by participants. This declaration will be shared with UN Members States, the global civil society, and other stakeholders with both recommendations and demands for the post-2015 sustainable development goals.

As brothers and sisters across the world, we might wonder how have we come to this? The entire survival of the whole ecosystem and humankind is threatened while the fear of mutual destruction looms overhead. Sept. 26 marks the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons established by the United Nations General Assembly which will encourage world leaders to negotiate for a nuclear weapons free world and disarmament.

As Dominicans, we follow in the footsteps of Saint Dominic and align ourselves with the four pillars of Dominican spirituality: study, prayer, community, and ministry. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to incorporate those aspects into our lives. Perhaps ignorance is the most damaging; if we do not know, we do not have to do anything about it. We cannot turn a blind eye on nuclear arms. Our environment and world is counting on our awareness and our action.

Margaret Mayce

Margaret Mayce, OP (DLC/Amityville)
NGO in Special Consultative Status at the United Nations
Dominican Leadership Conference
211 East 43 St. Rm 704
New York, NY 10017
email: Margaret Mayce, OP

Dominican Leadership Conference

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