Pax Christi International in the Global Day of Action on Military Spending
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Today, 14 April 2014, is the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS). As every year, SIPRI has published the military expenditure data of 2013. World military expenditure in real terms is estimated at roughly $1.75 trillion. The top ten countries are (in decreasing order): USA, China, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea. Although the United States has decreased its military expenditures to some extent, as have Western and Central Europe, expenditures have increased in many regions of the world.
Cut Military Spending and Fund Human Needs!
Pax Christi International has invited faith-based organisations and religious communities worldwide to join the “Disarmament for Sustainable Development Campaign” as launched by the International Peace Bureau. The main goal of this initiative is to press for an end to excessive military expenditures and for significant investment to address human insecurity and threats to the planet.
By reducing funding for the military sector, significant funds could be made available for social and environmental projects, first of all domestically, but also in other countries, especially the poorest.
Pax Christi International is very concerned about and brings attention to the increasing military expenditures (compared to 2012 data) in the following regions and countries:
- Africa (large increase). Top five spenders are Algeria (exceeding $10 billion for the first time), Angola, South Africa, Morocco and Libya. Increasing military expenses in: Ghana, Mauritius, Angola, DRCongo, Seychelles, Zambia, Tunisia, Morocco and Mali.
- Asia and Oceania (significant increase). Top five spenders are China, Japan, India, South Korea and Australia. Increasing military expenses in: Afghanistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan.
- Central and South America (small increase). Top five spenders are: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Venezuela. Increasing military expenses in: Paraguay, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia and Peru.
- Europe (slight decrease). Top five spenders are Russia, France, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Increasing military expenses in Ukraine, Belarus, Malta and Portugal.
- Middle East (significant increase). Top five spenders are Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran and Oman. Increasing military expenses in Iraq, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
End investment in weapons of mass destruction!
One urgent topic is the human and financial cost of maintaining – and even renovating – the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons. The USA is poised to spend $11.6 billion to upgrade a handful of nuclear bombs. The Pentagon wants to upgrade the tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, making them more accurate and more usable. There is a growing political and public opinion – not at least in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium – to get rid of those weapons. A small minority of NATO allies cling to the bombs as a political symbol of America’s commitment for the security in Europe.
Those funds would be better used for those who are impoverished, including in the USA itself. The continued investment in weapons of mass destruction is not only intrinsically immoral, but also it is an immense violation of the dignity of those who are forced to live on the margins of our world. On behalf of the poor and excluded in society, all plans to refurbish nuclear arsenals, and to resist moves to eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, should be abandoned.
Governments should decrease their military spending and put peace and development at the centre of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Although efforts have been made to promote a human security approach, there are still gaps between rhetoric and reality. Political authorities should do more regarding preventive diplomacy by investing in disarmament for development.
We believe that faith-based organisations worldwide can play a crucial role in national debates, because they reach across all sectors of society and are uniquely placed in communities to give a moral lead on matters of peace and justice. Faith-based organisations have strong interest in seeing that resources allocated to military spending are shifted towards development. This is a profoundly important ethical and political issue which touches questions of stewardship of earthly resources and of identifying priorities based on a “preferential option for the poor.”
“[The Secretary-General] has repeatedly stated that ‘the world is over-armed and peace is under-funded’. It is, to say the least, troubling to the conscience that global military spending exceeded $1.7 trillion last year. That comes down to about $4.6 billion a day, which is almost twice the UN’s annual regular budget. Do we not have alternative uses for even a fraction of that $1.7 trillion, to meet basic human needs, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?" Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.