In 2005 IPB launched its programme ‘Disarmament for Sustainable Development’ (D for D), which was designed to direct widespread, public concern to the ongoing high level of global military spending, and the evidence that all weapons – both the devastating weapons of mass destruction and those used on a frequent basis (small arms, cluster bombs, landmines, etc.) seriously impede sustainable development. Since several world conflicts over the previous decade demonstrated that military solutions were not useful in the attempt to establish peace throughout the world, IPB advocates for major reductions in defense budgets and the adoption of a ‘human security’ approach.
The Disarmament for Sustainable Development programme focuses on three thematic areas:
- military spending,
- impacts of weapons on development,
- justifications for investments in militarism.
One of the highlights of this programme is the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS), which has been a yearly spring event since 2011. In December 2014 it was decided that the GDAMS would become the main event of a broader year-round campaign, the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS).
GDAMS actions would firstly take place during a day, and afterwards during a short period which would include the U.S. Tax Day and the yearly publication of data on worldwide military expenditure by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. We consider this timing is particularly convenient: during these days the biggest world military spender is collecting taxes and SIPRI is publishing its report and drawing lots of attention to the issue.
Within time new partnerships were formed and new issues were incorporated. In particular, the Climate Change agreement (COP 21) and the consecration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN General Assembly were given a considerable amount of focus over the past years. IPB and its GCOMS partners consistently supported the notion that much of the money locked into the military sector should and – given political will – could be made available for such purposes.
Since 2011, the central focus of the D for D program consists of military and social spending. The various concepts of these terms are discussed in greater detail in the book, Warfare or Welfare? as well as in a follow-up book, Whose Priorities?. Both books provide examples of creative campaigning by NGOs and other civil society organisations that have taken up these issues. More recent publications focus on the links between military spending and the Development Agenda of the United Nations, as well as the challenge of climate change.
By the end of 2015 it was becoming clear that a third area would also be requiring major investments: humanitarian crises. This issue was addressed in the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul.
A milestone for the D for D program was the International Conference “Disarm! For a Climate of Peace” held in Berlin in 2016. Organized by the International Peace Bureau, it brought together a wide variety of experts and advocates from all around the world, with over 1.000 participants from 58 different countries. 4 Nobel Peace Prize laureates participated in the conference.
In more recent years the campaign has put an special emphasis on climate emergencies, highlighting the opportunity cost of military spending and denouncing the connections between environmental destruction and militarization, which is both a cause of and a response to climate change.