On Thursday, September 21, the Delàs Center for Peace Studies organized a strategic debate in the Spanish Parliament with representatives of the political parties and with some Madrid entities defending human rights. The meeting was part of the GCOMS Cut Milex campaign.
Global military spending (Milex) levels have risen steadily in recent years. According to SIPRI data, the World’s military spending in 2016 amounted to USD 1686 billion compared to USD 1088 billion in 2001. Milex reached a 2.2% of the global GDP in 2016, which means 227 US dollars per person. The 15 largest spenders in 2016 accounted for USD 1360 billion: 81% of total global spending this year.
Total Milex in Spain was 16.8 billion euros in 2016, with a forecast of 18.8 billion euros in 2017. The 2017 Spanish Defense budget increased by a 26% with regard to 2017. Increases in military expenditure lead to more arms and benefits for the military industry. By reinforcing the Military-Industrial Complex and the lobbying power of this industry, it leads to an increase of arms trade, arms in circulation worldwide, notably in regions in conflict.
On September 21, this strategic debate organized by the Delàs Center for Peace Studies in the Spanish Parliament addressed issues such as opacity in official data on exports and military and defense industry, the need to conduct an audit on Special Arms Programs to know their real cost and the debt they have generated, criteria for addressing military spending in the Spanish budget in a comprehensive and rigorous way, and the necessity of redirecting military spending to social needs, cooperation, conflict mediation and peace building.
The meeting was attended by different members of the civil society – CONGD, The Contagious Utopia collective, Women in Black and the Antimilitarist Alternative-MOC (conscientious objection movement) – as well as several members of the Spanish Parliament from different parties such as Podemos, the Socialist Party, ERC, and IU, and the Ex-chief of the Spanish Defense Headquarters. During the meeting, several issues connected to the GCOMS campaign were discussed such as the opacity in official date on defense and military industry and exportations, the need to conduct an audit on the Special Programs of Armaments (SPOA) to determinate they real cost and the debt that they have generated, the need to fix criteria to address military expenditure in the Spanish budget in a comprehensive and rigorous manner, and the necessity to redistribute military expenditure towards cooperation, conflict mediation, peace-building, and human needs.
Different propositions were raised during the meeting. The first one was to compare the budget allocated to defense with the one to development cooperation. A majority of members in the meeting reached an agreement on the necessity to carry out an audit on Spanish military spending and SPOA, and to establish a parliamentarian control mechanism on it.
Another aspect was the necessity of transparency on the figures on military spending. Indeed, a lot of military spending has been found in unexpected budget lines (such as the Ministry of Agriculture) while, for instance, foreign operations were not included in it. This highlights the necessity of having clear criteria to define what should be considered as military spending.
Finally, the importance of giving particular attention to an alternate culture of security and peace was highlighted during the meeting. We need to build a new model of defense and security, to reduce army’s force by discovering alternatives to defense. A lot of things can be done to achieve those objectives, at different levels. This was in fact the main proposition raised in the meeting. First at the Parliament level, by ensuring transparency, audit and control on military spending, by insisting to reduce armed forces and by promoting a new culture of peace. Secondly, both in the Parliament and outside it, by organizing campaigns like Cut Milex on a new model of defense and security that must become an alternative to defense.