The U.N.’s Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, says it is governments’ responsibility to inform the public about military expenditures – and to justify them.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has relentlessly advocated drastic cuts in global military spending in favour of sustainable development, will be sorely disappointed by the latest findings in a report released Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The decline in arms spending in the West, says SIPRI, has been offset by a rise in military expenditures by emerging non-Western and developing nations who are, ironically, the strongest candidates for development aid.
“Four hours of military spending is equal to the total budgets of all international disarmament and non-proliferation organisations combined.” — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Asked whether there are any future prospects of reversing this trend, Dr. Sam Perlo-Freeman, director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Programme, told IPS, “At present, there is little or no prospect of a large-scale transfer of resources from military spending to spending on human and economic development.”
Of the top 15 military spenders in 2013, eight were non-Western nations: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea, Brazil, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The Western countries in the top 15 were the United States, France, UK, Germany, Italy and Australia, plus Japan. Canada, a former high spender, dropped out of the list in 2013. The increase in military spending in emerging and developing countries continues unabated, said Perlo-Freeman.
“While in some cases it is the natural result of economic growth or a response to genuine security needs, in other cases it represents a squandering of natural resource revenues, the dominance of autocratic regimes, or emerging regional arms races,” he added.
World military expenditure totalled 1.75 trillion dollars in 2013, a fall of 1.9 percent in real terms since 2012, according to SIPRI. The fall in the global total comes from decreases in Western countries, led by the United States. But military spending in the rest of the world increased by 1.8 percent. Bemoaning the rise in arms spending, the secretary-general said last year the world spends more on the military in one month than it does on development all year.
“And four hours of military spending is equal to the total budgets of all international disarmament and non-proliferation organizations combined,” he noted.
The bottom line: the world is over-armed and peace is under-funded, said Ban. Bloated military budgets, he said, promote proliferation, derail arms control, doom disarmament and detract from social and economic development.
– By Thalif Deen