Times change, and with them, our reactions to events. Here is the latest news about the Global Campaign on Military Spending :
1. The dates: This year’s Global Day/GDAMS will not in fact be a day but a fortnight! For diverse reasons it will be held from April 5th- 18th. On the 5th, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) will publish the global military expenditure figures for 2015, together with its analysis of the trends. The 18th is Tax Day in the USA, a traditional moment in the calendar for civil society to challenge the uses put to public money. This new style ‘Global Day’ offers our participants more scope to choose a suitable moment to organise events that fit local or national contexts. As usual, IPB will publish all events that are notified to us as being within the GDAMS framework.
2. The context: Recent (and continuing) terrorist attacks and the militaristic responses of several governments have created a rather new context for our actions on military spending. ‘Rather new’ since clearly this is more an intensification than an entirely new phenomenon. But the random violence and the extreme ideology of Islamic State has led many people to support the ongoing military campaigns – and the increased budgets to support them. Nevertheless there are large sections of the population who have serious doubts about the wisdom of the policies enunciated by François Hollande and other Western leaders. See IPB’s statement Tackling Terror on the IPB website. We urge our partners to reach out as widely as possible to other sectors of civil society, to draw in support for our message, and to help organise really effective GDAMS events.
3. The Congress: This year is a special one for IPB and for the GCOMS. We will hold a major world congress around these themes, in Berlin, on Sept 30-Oct 3rd. The title is: Disarm! For a Climate of Peace: Creating an Action Agenda. As the name suggests, the issue of financial resources to tackle climate change will be a live issue long after COP 21. In the runup period, IPB conducted a daily social media effort to get the military issue into the COP 21 debate. See: https://www.facebook.com/ipb1910. Meanwhile we are also working with members and partners in many cities to organise ‘prepcomms’ in advance of the Congress. These can be on any topic, and can take many forms. We hope that the GDAMS 2016 period will be an opportunity for generating media and public attention, not only to the issues but also to the Congress.
4. The committee: We have re-convened the International Steering Committee that has worked successfully over the past few years in helping the IPB Secretariat with the coordination. The USA coordinator this year will be Joseph Gerson, replacing Mary Zerkel, both of American Friends Service Committee (Quakers). Joe is also a member of the IPB Board, and a very experienced peace activist and organiser – we are delighted to have him in the team.
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