The week beginning 24 to 30 October marks the long week celebrations of the Disarmament Week and these are perennial celebrations on the United Nations calendar. I will not go back to the history and development of these celebrations since I had a similar article last year. However, the agenda of these celebrations is to seek global elimination of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destructions.
We are having these celebrations at a difficult time in Europe when there is war going on in Ukraine. A total estimate of 14,200-14,400 people died in the first three months of the war which started eight months ago with 3,404 being civilians, 4,400 forces including volunteers and 4,641 employees from the Museum of Military History. Over 6.6 million people have fled the country to seek refuge in foreign countries.
In a war it is well known that both parties will have casualties and Russia is estimated to have lost 25,000 people. These are official statistics from the United Nations. Ukraine has lost 20 percent of its territory to Russia and the cost of destruction is at least 113. 5 Billion US Dollars. The country will need an estimate of 200 Billion US Dollars for rebuilding the devastated cities.
These are unpleasant statistics that we are confronted with as we celebrate the disarmament week. The statistics are a sure testimony to the importance of disarmament as we attempt to secure our common future as human beings. There is no sustainable future when human life is at stake. Sustainable development goal 16 talks about promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies and it is difficult to achieve that goal when there is no proper disarmament. Conflict, insecurity, weak institutions and limited justice remain a great threat to sustainable development.
The eight months of war in Ukraine has cost the country’s development that has been gained for decades. Securing our common future rests in a proper disarmament and a culture of positive peace. Jesus on his first sermon on the mount included peacemakers as some of the blessed people. Peace is mentioned among his famous beatitudes demonstrating its significance in the Kingdom of God. Here Jesus should have been referring to positive peace which is characterized by love and respect for one another and contrary to negative peace which is simply absence of war even when relationships are strained.
Disarmament is a positive step towards building trust and positive relationships. We cannot talk of sustainable peace in a context where the manufacturing and trafficking of malicious weapons is still a major business. The Ukraine-Russia case is one among other cases that are taking place throughout the world and, as children of God, we need to prioritise peacemaking and pray for a world free from weapons of mass destruction. As we celebrate this Disarmament week, let us pray for all stakeholders involved in ensuring peace and justice among communities. I shall conclude with the prayer for peace from St Francis of Assisi;
Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me
sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is
sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be
consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to
love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are
pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.