Amid Growing Famine, War, and Poverty Calls for Global Cuts in Military Spending

May 23rd, 2017 - by admin

Global Campaign on Military Spending – 2017-05-23 01:47:22

GCOMS Second Statement on the Occasion of the
Global Days of Action on Military Spending 18-28 April 2017

Global Campaign on Military Spending

BARCELONA (April 24, 2017) — There are plenty of reasons to renew, once again and for the seventh year running, our call for a cut in military spending (based upon SIPRI data), so that the world can move a little closer to the human security approach that would better serve humanity.

The Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS) is an international campaign promoted by the International Peace Bureau. The aim of the campaign is to press governments to invest money in the sectors of health, education, employment and climate change, rather than the military.

GCOMS includes the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS), which in its seventh edition includes over 70 different actions in more than 20 countries, as listed on the CGOMS webpage.

According to the updated 2016 military spending data, published today by SIPRI, world military expenditure has increased in 2016 by 0.4% in real terms, and is now estimated at roughly $ 1686 billion.

The top 10 spenders in 2016 have been the USA (with a small increase over 2015), China (showing a significant increase), Russia (a moderate increase), Saudi Arabia (having reduced its military budget), India (with a significant increase), and France, UK, Japan, Germany and South Korea (all of them with no changes or only small increases). This shows an overall constant increase over the last four consecutive years.

Civil society is most affected since these increases also mean reduced funding for social and human needs. It is increasingly urgent to reverse this trend, to reduce drastically the military spending worldwide, and to redirect this money towards the promotion of human rights and the construction a new, peaceful, way of life based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Today the Global Campaign on Military Spending declares that we must start building peace again. It is urgent that we build human security structures worldwide and at the same time put a stop to war and destruction. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are examples of wars that have destroyed countries and devastated their peoples.

What is happening before our eyes in Yemen and Syria is intolerable: in time we will be asked, “What did you do to stop the killing? What did you do to aid the millions of displaced people?” The vast majority of humankind desires an end to wars and the opportunity to live peaceful lives.

Moreover, this year could be the most deadly in the past three decades in terms of famine victims; 20 million people are at risk in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria. As an international community we are failing to respond to the deadly threats posed by famine, caused in part by war and by unconscionable economic inequality.

According to Oxfam’s recent report on “An Economy for the 1%”, the 62 richest people in the world have accumulated as much wealth as the 3.6 billion poorest people, and, during the last five years, the “wealth” of this poorer half of the world has declined by 41%.

What we see is a predatory system of greed and power, a system that exploits the natural resources and the energy of most of the world. The military is this system’s primary tool.

For this reason, military spending must be reduced if we want to ensure peace, a fair distribution of natural resources, an effective world decolonization and human security.

GCOMS calls for a yearly 10% cut in military spending; according to SIPRI’s research this would be enough to achieve critically important individual goals, such as eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, addressing and reducing the refugee crisis.

Another effect of the current increase in military expenditure is to amplify the refugee crisis. Instead of building walls, militarizing borders, ignoring human rights, the main “peace weapons” needed for real security are offers of refuge and shelter, cooperation, global justice and integration.

Instead of a military budget, we need a Global Social Budget to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Instead of munitions industries and the militarization of borders, we should respond to the present humanitarian crisis with a budget to secure and promote human rights.

We need to involve citizens and organizations more actively in an open and robust debate to challenge the counter-productive results of military expenditure. More than ever, we welcome new partners to work on the ongoing Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS), and to make the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) a great success!

For more information visit:

Armaments, Disarmament and International Security

SIPRI Yearbook 2016 presents a combination of original data in areas such as world military expenditure, international arms transfers, arms production, nuclear forces, armed conflicts and multilateral peace operations with state-of-the-art analysis of important aspects of arms control, peace and international security. The SIPRI Yearbook, which was first published in 1969, is written by both SIPRI researchers and invited outside experts.


International Security, Armaments and Disarmament
Dan Smith / SPIRI

What is the balance sheet on peace and security for 2015? Some of the year’s events qualify it as a particularly dark year for international stability and human security. On the negative side of the ledger stand terrorist attacks in Iraq and Syria, in Ankara, Istanbul and Paris, in Tunisia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

The background is an increased number of armed conflicts, with notable degrees of escalation in some. There were huge flows of refugees and migrants from conflict-affected countries and increasing tensions between North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states and Russia over Ukraine and Syria.

There are also entries on the positive side. First, Iran and the United States resolved their differences and with five other states and the European Union, agreed a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to regulate Iran’s nuclear programme. This removed a major irritant from Middle East politics, even if the deal’s merits were not universally accepted.

A second positive development was agreement at the United Nations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Agenda 2030, setting out an ambitious agenda on poverty and peace.

Third, in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the international community agreed on ambitious measures to restrict global warming and to increase the ability of affected countries to adapt to the inevitable effects of change.

To assess the year overall, there are foundations for both pessimism and optimism. The statistics on armed conflict suggest a reversal of the two decades of post-cold war peace. In the Middle East and North Africa, the events of 2011 now look less like an Arab Spring and more like the start of a decade of instability and conflict.

Events such as the downing of a Russian airliner in October 2015 and the multiple attacks in Paris in November indicate that the violence of the region has no boundaries.

Retaliation for terrorist outrages seems to o er little prospect of ending violence and bringing security. After 14 years of the global ‘war on terror’, the international reach of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has grown.

This leads to an uncomfortable conclusion: that peace is not being well served by national governments or the array of international institutions, forces and instruments that are currently devoted to enhancing security and international stability. If peace is not actually in retreat, it is certainly under serious pressure.

The international community showed with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement that it has the wherewithal to set ambitious goals and agendas and then gain consensus on them. Hard diplomatic work brought agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme and, on paper at least, on the conflict in Ukraine.

It was not so effective in relation to Libya, Syria and Yemen. As ever, over issues where agreement was found, implementation remains an open question. Indeed, a review of 2015 should perhaps end only with a question mark.

World military expenditure is estimated to have been $1676 billion in 2015, representing 2.3 per cent of global gross domestic product or $228 per person. Total global expenditure in 2015 was about 1.0 per cent higher in real terms than in 2014.

Military expenditure continued to fall in North America and Western Europe in 2015, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years. Spending also fell in Latin America and Africa, in the latter case reversing many years of increases.

By contrast, military expenditure continued to rise in Asia and Oceania, Eastern Europe and those countries in the Middle East for which data is available.

Trends in Military Spending

The sharp fall in the price of oil, which began in late 2014, led to correspondingly sharp falls in military spending in several oil-producing countries that had been increasing such spending rapidly in recent years when oil prices were high.

Although spending rises continued in some other oil- producing countries, it was often at a slower pace than in previous years and with the expectation of falling spending in 2016. Thus, the oil-fuelled boom in non-Western military expenditure appears to be coming to an end.

Military spending by the United States continued to fall in 2015, but there are signs that the decreases are coming to an end with a projected rise in 2016. Nonetheless, the USA remained by far the world’s largest military spender in 2015 with $596 billion or 36 per cent of the world total.

Chinese military spending grew again in 2015, roughly in line with economic growth. The 2015 Chinese defence white paper on military strategy presented a fairly negative view of the geopolitical security environment. It signaled an expansion of China’s military ambitions, especially in the maritime domain, and a shift in the focus of the defence strategy from land to sea. The Chinese Government made major efforts to tackle corruption in the military in 2015, including the arrest of numerous senior military officers and officials.

Opportunity Costs of Military Expenditure
The opportunity costs of military expenditure in terms of spending on human, social and economic development is once again a salient topic. A comparison of trends in spending on the military, health

and education since 1995 shows that a majority of countries have increased health and education spending, while reducing military spending. The trend in some states in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, however, has gone in the opposite direction.

An increasing majority of countries spend more on health than on military spending, but states in the Middle East, along with many oil-revenue dependent states in other regions, tend to be exceptions. There is no apparent correlation between trends in countries’ spending on the military and their spending on health.

A number of studies have considered the cost of achieving the various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the United Nations in 2015. By comparing the sums discussed in these studies with the level of global military spending, assessments can be made about how much could be achieved if a proportion of world military spending were redirected to the SDGs.

SDG 4 on education could be comfortably achieved at a cost of well under 10 per cent of annual global military spending, while eliminating extreme poverty and hunger (SDGs 1 and 2) would cost just over 10 per cent. A little less than half the world’s annual military spending would be suffcient to meet the majority of those SDGs for which additional economic resources are a central requirement.

Military Expenditure Data
National response rates to the UN reporting instrument on military spending continue to decline. The SIPRI tables of military expenditure by country are freely accessible online via the Military Expenditure Database, .

The past decade has seen increased acknowledgement within the academic literature and among the policy community of the relationship between climate change and security.

Growing evidence of the links between climate change impacts and human security have been detailed in the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its first ever chapter dedicated to the topic states that ‘human security will be progressively threatened as the climate changes’.

Climate change: a ‘Threat Multiplier’
Climate change is best understood as a ‘threat multiplier’ that interacts with and compounds existing risks and pressures in a given context, and can increase the likelihood of instability or violent conflict.

The IPCC sets out evidence that contextual factors such as ‘low per capita incomes, economic contraction, and inconsistent state institutions’ are drivers of conflict and sensitive to climate change.

The IPCC also found that ‘People living in places affected by violent conflict are particularly vulnerable to climate change’ and that ‘conflict strongly influences vulnerability to climate change impacts.’ Taking this further, the Group of Seven (G7) commissioned an independent study in 2015: A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks.

The study identified compound risks such as resource competition, livelihood insecurity, extreme weather events, volatile food prices and trans-boundary water management, as well as the unintended impacts of climate change policies, as some of the main ways in which climate change interacts with fragility.

The study also found that both mitigation and adaptation to climate change are highly relevant in addressing security and fragility risks.

Mirroring the growth in academic literature, the potential security implications of climate change have been gaining more attention from foreign and security policymakers at the national and international levels. Debates on climate change and security in the United Nations Security Council in 2007 and 2011 also underscored the issue.

In 2011 the Security Council asserted that ‘possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security’.

International Policy Response
The international policy community faces practical obstacles to addressing these complex links.

For example, the 2015 global frameworks — such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sendai Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction — do not acknowledge the linked risks of climate change and security.

This has inhibited joined-up policy and action. However, concepts such as resilience have helped to bring the idea of ‘interconnectivity’ to the fore and an increasing number of donors are integrating individual issues across their policy, programmes and funding decision-making processes. An opportunity exists in the emerging resilience agenda to provide a thematic umbrella to integrate e orts across policy fields.