Submitted to The Examiner

A former columnist for The Examiner, Matthew Bolton, Ph.D., addressed the United Nations General Assembly First Committee Tuesday on behalf of international non-governmental organizations working on disarmament, peacebuilding and humanitarian issues.

“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,” said Bolton to representatives of the 193 UN member states, as well as UN agencies and NGOs. The First Committee has responsibility for disarmament and international security.

The NGO statement, endorsed by 11 organizations, congratulated states on “some noteworthy progress” in recent international discussions on the elimination of nuclear weapons, the recent Security Council resolution on small arms and light weapons as well as the Arms Trade Treaty, signed by more than 100 states since June.

Despite these developments in global policy making on controlling weapons, however, Bolton asserted that “now is not the time for resting on laurels.”

The NGO statement identified numerous concerns, including the abuse of the consensus rule in disarmament forums, exclusion of meaningful civil society participation, lack of equal opportunities for women in decisionmaking and the marginalization of the voices of victims and survivors of armed violence.

“Creativity and new human-centered approaches must be a requirement for all states advocating nuclear disarmament, conventional arms control and reduced military expenditure,” said Bolton, reading the NGO statement. “We can and must replace stalemate and watered-down outcomes with alternatives that advance human security and social and economic justice.”

Bolton wrote a popular weekend foreign affairs column in The Examiner from 2003 to 2011, reporting from Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Israel, Kenya, Kosovo, Sudan, Uganda and many other places.

“My work reporting for The Examiner on international issues was a great education in communicating complex global political issues,” said Bolton.

Bolton is author of Foreign Aid and Landmine Clearance: Governance, Politics and Security in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Sudan (I.B. Tauris, 2010) and a forthcoming travelogue Political Minefields (I.B. Tauris, 2014). In addition to his writings in The Examiner, he has written widely on the politics of landmines, cluster munitions, the Arms Trade Treaty and fully autonomous military robotics (“killer robots”).