Pace University expert on disarmament speaks to U.N. First Committee

Matthew Bolton, a Pace University New York City faculty advisor to the Pace Model U.N. program, spoke on Oct. 29 to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee on behalf of non-governmental organizations for disarmament.

"We call for an approach to disarmament that is driven by the needs and rights of people most affected by armed violence, not by the discretion of states and organizations most responsible for it," Bolton said.

Bolton spoke to U.N. agencies and NGOs, as well as 193 U.N. Member States. The First Committee is responsible for international security and disarmament.

Bolton congratulated Member States on "some noteworthy progress" on the elimination of nuclear weapons, the Security Council resolution on small arms and light weapons, and the Arms Trade Treaty.

Bolton said despite progress in weapons control policy, "now is not the time for resting on laurels." He said NGOs have continued concerns about the consensus rule, which causes stalemates and is easily abused during decision-making at disarmament forums.

Bolton said there are also concerns about the rate of participation from society and that the conversation of disarmament should include more women, victims and survivors of armed violence.

"Women's groups were instrumental in ensuring that the Arms Trade Treaty became the first treaty to recognize the link between gender-based violence and the international arms trade," Bolton said. "It represents a step towards a more comprehensive recognition of the relationship between weapons and gender."

Bolton said creativity and human-centered approaches must be used to advocate nuclear disarmament, conventional arms control and reduced military expenditure.

"We can and must replace stalemate and watered-down outcomes with alternatives that advance human security and social and economic justice," Bolton said.