19.04.2024 Author: Christopher Black

Peace In Our Time: Complete And General Disarmament

Peace In Our Time: Complete and General Disarmament

On March 22, in Belgrade, at the conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, in 1999, attended by academics, historians, ambassadors, government ministers, activists for peace, and journalists from around the world, I had the privilege to speak and offer my thoughts on what can be done, what must be done, to bring about world peace and security in the face of the constant threat of war from the imperialist power, the United States of America, and its satellite states.

The terrorist attack on the Crocus Hall Concert in Moscow took place that night; an attack that the evidence strongly indicates was carried out by Ukraine special services, with the support and connivance of the British and Americans, which was also supported indirectly by the other NATO satellites of the USA in their propaganda immediately after the attack. They all became accomplices.

The question then becomes twofold, first, what does Russia do about it, and second, how do we prevent this from happening again, for soon thereafter the Israelis attacked the diplomatic compound, the sovereign territory of Iran, in Damascus, an act of war which can quickly spiral out of control and lead to a regional and world war.

And why do the USA and Israel think they can get away with these criminal actions, except that they are armed to the teeth and force is their first choice to impose their will on others. If they did not have that force, things would have to be done differently, through diplomacy, through international law, through honest negotiation and goodwill.

So, how do we achieve that when attempts to establish a just world order, in which a dialogue of nations is the norm instead of conflict between nations, are foundering on a crude return to a “might makes right,” on a crude return to the fascist ideologies of the past; of the “rules-based order,” that is an order based on the orders of the ruler ruling over all-the supreme leader, the new fuehrer, whose adherents in the West regard any attempt to insist on adherence to international law and even common morality, as weakness to be exploited.

The question therefore arises as to how nations and peoples can establish the necessary legal mechanisms to survive and flourish when there exist those who oppose any such mechanisms being established.

My simple answer, too obvious to need stating, perhaps, is that the only way that this can be accomplished is through worldwide disarmament. With worldwide disarmament, force can never be an issue in international relations.

In 1961, President Kennedy gave a speech to the United Nations calling for complete and general disarmament. He was reacting to and agreeing with, a proposal made by the leaders of the Non-Aligned Nations at the Belgrade conference earlier that year calling for general disarmament, and the proposal of the USSR made in 1959, for complete and general disarmament. He said, in part,

“Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”

On September 18, 1959, the Soviet government presented its famous Declaration of the Soviet Government on General and Complete Disarmament in which, after an eloquent recitation of the dangers we all face stated,

“The Soviet Union has based and still bases its foreign policy on the assumption that it is possible to prevent the future development of human society from taki­ng the course which has led to two world wars and to ensure that the history of human society ceases to be a chronicle of sanguinary wars.  Weapons are created by the hands of man. The same hands can also destroy them”….

“After carefully considering the present international situa­tion and the experience of earlier disarmament negotiations the Government of the Soviet Union has come to the con­clusion that the best means of solving the disarmament problem, which is the chief international problem of our time, is complete and general disarmament by all States.”

“By complete and general disarmament the Soviet Govern­ment means the renunciation by all States without exception to the maintenance of any kind of armed force apart from minimum contingents for internal security (militia, police) equipped with small arms and designed to maintain order in each country.”

The Declaration set out a number of workable steps that could be followed to achieve this objective and, on March 15, 1962, the Soviet Government delivered its, Draft Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament under Strict International Control, to the 18-nation Disarmament Committee which had been set up at the UN.

The Treaty set out in detail the concrete steps that would ensure the achievement of general disarmament; to take place in 4 stages over a limited period of five years, every step to be overseen by an International Disarmament Organisation.

Premier Khrushchev delivered his famous speech the same year supporting the Treaty-it should be read by all and is titled, General and Complete Disarmament Is A Guarantee of Peace and Security, a long and eloquent document in which the essential point is made by this simple statement,

“Peace can be radially safeguarded through the complete abolition of the physical machinery of war.”


“Removal of the vestiges of the Second World War is vital to peace, and the solution of this problem brooks no further delay. Disarmament, the exclusion of war from the life of society and the establishment of a lasting peace on earth constitute one of the cherished goals of the Soviet people and their Government.  As far back as the last century Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the eminent author of, The Song of Hiawatha, called ‘the tribes of men together,” saying, ‘Bury your war-clubs and your weapons, smoke the calumet together.’

“I do not smoke, but really, I would be happy to light the calumet with he leaders of all powers!”


“Martin Andersen Nexij, an outstanding representative of world culture, said that people needed peace “to work, to rejoice and to make life beautiful. Disarmament and peace could open up truly inexhaustible wellsprings of creative endeavor which today are being blocked by the militarists. The huge resources thrown into the maw of war preparations could be switched to meeting the pressing needs of mankind, which are so numerous.”


“Mankind can and must live without war. War in the contemporary epoch is not fatally inevitable. But neither is peace fatally inevitable.The question is whether the people today have the resources to stop the race towards death, towards a new war. We say unequivocally: Yes, they have.”

And lastly,

“Over a hundred years ago, Victor Hugo spoke at the Congress of Friends of Peace in Paris of a future day when guns would be exhibited in museums and people would wonder how such barbarity was possible in the past. “The day will come,” Victor Hugo exclaimed, “when markets open to trade and minds open to ideas will be the only battlefields.”

But despite the fact that the Soviets presented workable and achievable methods and objectives, the Americans working against Kennedy and the forces of peace, and their allies bent on world dominance, refused to support the draft Treaty and instead maneuvered to increase their arsenal of conventional and nuclear weapons.  As Thomas Carlyle said in his History of Frederick The Great,

“When you want to pick a fight, you will always find a way.”

So, in the face of the intransigence of the militaristic powers led by the USA, in the face of their refusal to turn swords into ploughshares, does it not seem naïve to again propose that a movement among the peoples of the world demanding general and complete disarmament be reignited and with the utmost urgency?

The United Nations has its Office of Disarmament Affairs dealing with secondary issues of control of particular types of weapons, but the Soviet proposal of the creation of an International Disarmament Organisation to oversee complete and general world disarmament was never taken up.  It is high time that it was, and a world movement be created to demand it be set up, along the lines set out in the draft Soviet Treaty of 1962. The demand by the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement made in Belgrade in 1961, the demand repeated by President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev, must again become the cause of the people of the world in order to achieve the objective all people of goodwill wish and hope for; Peace.

But we see no willingness on the part of the hegemonic power or their ruling elites to achieve this, and so the other powers do not even talk about it. One can understand this reluctance, while deploring it, when it is understood by everyone, that the dominant military power, the United States of America, is constantly threatening or attacking every other nation that does not obey its will.

Therefore, the issue then becomes what to do about this dominant power. That, of course, brings to the foreground the question as to the causes of this power and dominance and the desire for more ever more power and dominance and the rise of a political class in that country that expresses this-the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us of in 1959 and how to transform the influence and power of this complex, this “military mentality” as Einstein called it. That is a matter I leave for others to take up.

China has proposed a new treaty on limiting first use of nuclear arms.  But the USA has walked away from a number of such treaties forcing Russia and China to react to defend themselves. All nuclear powers claim they do not want to use their weapons, yet they test them in and prepare them for use and the Americans, who have used them against Japan, claim the right to use them again, as they deem necessary. China’s recent initiative is welcome. But it does not go far enough, it is even retrogression from the all-encompassing proposals made in the 1960s.

Perhaps I remain naïve, and there is no hope for humanity. Indeed, when I advocated for the revival of the world campaign for complete and general disarmament in Belgrade on March 22, it was well received by the audience and journalists at the conference, some of whom approached me and thanked me for raising this issue again, but world peace groups in attendance, who supported the idea in the 1960s, ignored it, and have since, as though disarmament is not something they need concern themselves with, a very strange and frankly disappointing attitude to the fundamental political issue of our time.

But, despite this rejection or dismissal of the proposal, it seems to me that the idea of general and complete disarmament, once it has taken possession of the broad masses of people, can and will become, again, a major material force in world politics, will become an unstoppable force because there is no alternative, except oblivion.

As Albert Einstein and many others have said many times, without worldwide disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, there can be no real international relations, just a dog-eat-dog world of savagery and war.

I will end with a quote from Dr. Einstein, as he expresses the heart of the matter better than anyone. In a radio interview on June 16, 1950 he said,

“…real peace cannot be reached without systematic disarmament on a supranational scale. I repeat, armament is no protection against war, but leads inevitably to war.”

 With the nuclear and general and complete disarmament, nations would have to negotiate from a different perspective, not of one of power and subservience but of equality and respect.  There will be no peace unless there is a will to peace, and there can be no will to peace unless peace is the only way things can be done.


Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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