Guns or Growth?

Assessing the impact of arms sales on sustainable development

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Published: 29 June 2004

Excessive or inappropriate arms purchases are a drain on social and economic resources which developing countries cannot afford. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter recognises that every state has a right to individual and collective self-defence. However, the UN Charter also requires all member states to ‘promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms’ in order to achieve ‘economic and social progress and development’ (Articles 1, 55 and 56) and ‘to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources’ (Article 26). A majority of states have, in addition, ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to contribute to the progressive realisation of these rights through international assistance and co-operation.