December 2012 Newsletter

The next GDAMS is taking place on 15 April 2013 and we are looking forward to working with as many groups as possible to organize attractive events on that day.

In this issue of our newsletter you will find a review of GDAMS 2012 events and an introduction to the discussions among UN agencies on a new development framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. GDAMS is a great opportunity to remind all involved actors about the importance of disarmament and of reducing military spending to achieve sustainable development.

The Newsletter is available for download here.

UN HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR DISARMAMENT AFFAIRS MARKS GDAMS!

The United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs made a statement on the occasion of GDAMS in support of our efforts to demilitarize for development.

“In her message to mark the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, highlighted the vast hidden human cost of excessive military spending, pointing out that massive military expenditures deprive the world of the resources required to address global challenges such as climate change, food security, natural and man-made disasters and global epidemics.”

This is a huge deal for us. The UN is currently undertaking important work on a number of international treaties such as the Arms Trade Treaty, which will be negotiated this July. We need to monitor their work and make sure we stay organized so that governments around the world sign on to the treaty, make it binding, and put pressure on the arms industry and the profiteers of war ending wasteful conflicts to fund human needs.

See the report from the UN News Service here.

GDAMS 2.0 A MASSIVE WORLDWIDE SUCCESS

Through four months of fruitful outreach, fortifying and expanding the network of civil society groups that make up the Global Day on Military Spending (GDAMS) coalition, the second Global Day last Tuesday, 17 April, was a tremendous success worldwide. The International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) were able to convince SIPRI to release their data on the same day of the global action in order to send a stronger message on the outrageous military spending which according to a report by SIPRI, for the year 2011 totalled $1.74 trillion.

Over 130 different actions took place in 42 countries worldwide. Many actions took place in Western Europe, including a high-level summit at the United Nations in Geneva with the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. And there was a major increase in participation from groups in the Global South. In Africa, where military spending is on the rise amidst growing dissident people’s movements, events were held in Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In South Asia, with India rising to become the world’s leading arms importer, activists are organizing on a major scale as the arms race between India and Pakistan escalates. Over 30 actions took place in villages and cities throughout Pakistan, including major rallies in the cities of Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, eliciting participation from parliamentarians, and a hunger strike by noted activist Raja Jahangir Akhtar. In India there was also a mix of rural and urban activism to mark GDAMS, and in Bangladesh, activists met with a number of Members of Parliament, including the Deputy Speaker, to discuss disarmament both in the country and in the region.

In the US (country accounting for 41% of global spending) there were more than 50 actions. These actions stressed the key facts that: 1) 48% of all tax revenues go toward the military; 2) $1 billion spent on education, health care or green energy will create more jobs than $1 billion in military spending; and 3) the Aerospace and Defense industry pays on average less than half of the standard corporate tax rate. The Occupy movement joined in on the Global Day in Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Kansas City, Asheville, Raleigh and Greensboro, NC, New Paltz, NY, and Eugene, OR. Some of the actions included marches on defence contractors (“Occupy the Military-Industrial Complex”) in Washington, LA and Tucson, street theater in Montgomery, MD, rallies outside post offices in several cities, a large rally at City Hall in Philadelphia, and a massive march with over 1,000 participants from a broad network of groups in Boston.

“Almost every country with a military is on an insane path, spending more and more on missiles, aircraft, and guns, while the planet is in crisis,” said John Feffer, Co-Director of Foreign Policy In Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. “These countries should be confronting the real threats of climate change, hunger, disease, and oppression, not wasting taxpayers’ money on their military.” “We are not only talking about money”, added Colin Archer, Secretary-General of the International Peace Bureau. “The world is misusing some of its most brilliant brains, which are desperately needed to tackle issues like the energy crisis and the challenge of creating millions of new jobs”.

Let’s take this tremendous momentum and turn a global day into a global movement to demilitarize and fund human needs.
We’ll be campaigning around the Arms Trade Treaty, the Rio+20 Development Conference this June, and other major global initiatives to abandon the path of war and destruction and embrace peaceful development and environmental stewardship.

For reports of the actions please go to this link.

SIPRI Releases 2011 Numbers on Military Spending

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, has published its annual calculations of global military spending. This year there is some reason for hope, as the slight increase in military spending around the world marks a major slowdown compared to global trends since September 11, 2001. Nevertheless, spending did go up from 2010, and modest cuts will not be enough to free up the resources necessary to reach the millennium development goals, nor to mark a true reversal of priorities from militarism and corporate greed to human needs and environmental sustainability.

The Press Release — available in English, French, Spanish, and Swedish — states the following:

World military expenditure in 2011 totalled $1.74 trillion, almost unchanged since 2010 in real terms, according to figures released today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The comprehensive annual update of the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database is accessible from today at www.sipri.org.

The small rise of just 0.3 per cent in 2011 marks the end of a run of continuous increases in military spending between 1998 and 2010, including an annual average increase of 4.5 per cent between 2001 and 2009.

Six of the world’s top military spenders—Brazil, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States—made cuts in their military budgets in 2011, in most cases as part of attempts to reduce budget deficits. Meanwhile other states, notably China and Russia, increased their military spending markedly.

Check it out! And stay informed! Let’s keep up the pressure to demilitarize to fund human needs this year, and see 2012 as a year for a net DECREASE in global spending!