25/04/2023 | |

Press Releases April 24: IPB, GCOMS-UK & Peace Movement Aotearoa

IPB Press release:

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) newest military expenditure data for 2022 shows yet another year of increase in global military spending, up 3.7 percent from 2021 to another all-time high of US$ 2240 billion. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, increases in military spending in Europe and the Western world were certainly expected; however, with the release of this data an important question must be addressed: does the outbreak of war drive increases in military spending, or rather do the incessant, yearly increases in military spending drive conflict and work? 

While there is certainly no direct or decisive answer to that question, we have to take this year’s SIPRI data in the context of the geopolitical landscape of the past decades. What is crystal clear from this perspective is that constant increases in military spending have not fostered peace or peace processes in ongoing wars and have not prevented the outbreak of new, larger, and increasingly concerning conflicts such as the war in Ukraine. Likewise, increases in military spending are completely unable to address the various security concerns at the forefront of our societies – from the effects of climate change and environmental degradation to protection from future pandemics and growing inequality and food insecurity in many parts of the world. And of course, the threat posed by countries upgrading their nuclear arsenals combined with increased rhetoric around the threat of the use of nuclear weapons and further expansion of illegal nuclear sharing to Belarus (already present in Western Europe under the US nuclear umbrella) puts our entire planet at risk. 

In many other cases, from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Sudan and Burundi, and Japan and China, military expenditure increases have not helped to reduce growing tensions and violence. The United States and the NATO alliance, who together continue to account for the majority of global spending, have in particular been a source of growing global tensions. In the face of recent geopolitical developments, there needs to be an alternative to constant growths in military budgets; there needs to be a resurgence of funding for diplomatic efforts, for the reduction of global tensions, complemented by funding for peace advocacy, peacebuilding, just resolution, and just reconstruction of conflict zones. The current global military expenditure is more than enough to fund not only peace work, but also to address the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), including climate change, poverty, and hunger. 

The world cannot continue on the path we are on. The International Peace Bureau, Global Campaign for Military Spending, and our global network of partners reject the logic of global leaders that preparing for war creates peace, we reject the role of the military-industrial complex in fuelling this continued growth, and we reject the view that there is no alternative. We urge the UN General Assembly to organize a special session on disarmament. We will use the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) from 13 April until 9 May to make our message heard and promote peaceful alternatives to militarism and war. 

You can download a PDF version of this text here.

GCOMS-UK Statement:

24 April 2023 by Dr Stuart Parkinson is Co-chair of the UK branch of the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS-UK) and Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR). Read the original blog entry here.

New data on global military spending – published today – shows that last year it grew by 3.7% above inflation to a massive $2.24 trillion. The UK’s percentage increase – 3.7% – was higher than its largest NATO allies – the USA, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Turkiye. The new spending data has been published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 1

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has, of course, been a major factor in driving increases in the budgets of those nations and NATO countries – with a knock-on effect in other parts of the world. Despite the considerable rise of 9.2% in the Russian budget, it remains dwarfed by NATO spending – which is over 14 times its size.

The data reinforces the picture painted by GCOMS-UK’s analysis of the British government’s budget in March. 2 This revealed an unpublicised increase of £1.5bn in 2022-23 compared with previously announced figures – which had themselves been considerably increased due to new military equipment spending and efforts to counter high inflation. This analysis also pointed out that the latest percentage rise in military spending had been higher than that for health, education, welfare, environment, overseas aid, or any other government department – and this during a cost-of-living crisis, with widespread strike action by public sector workers who are being told by the government that inflation-matching pay rises are unaffordable. Another notable figure from this analysis was that UK government spending on the military was 8.7 times higher than that on energy security and climate change for the financial year 2022-23. With the UN Security-General declaring a ‘Code Red for Humanity’ based on the latest scientific evidence on the climate threat – and calling on industrialised nations to bring forward their net zero plans by a decade 3 – this high spending ratio is clearly a serious problem. Indeed, the situation has been made worse by recent British government approval for the exploitation of new oil, gas, and coal fields, and the prioritisation given to energy technologies of particular interest to the military such as nuclear power and synthetic fuels.

The new SIPRI data signals that the governments of most of the wealthiest nations in the world – including the UK – continue to prioritise military spending at the expense of measures that bring real security – such as tackling poverty and inequality and the multiple environmental crises. This is exemplified, for example, by a report by the World Food Programme which estimated that the food price inflation caused by the war in Ukraine had forced an extra 47 million people across the world into ‘acute food insecurity’. 4

Hence, GCOMS-UK echoes the call from the International Peace Bureau (IPB) 5 urging all governments to prioritise the search for peace, a halt to arms races, and rapid, deep reductions in military spending.

Coinciding with the publication of the SIPRI figures are the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) co-ordinated by the IPB. GCOMS-UK is supporting GDAMS through protests around the country. 6

Peace Movement Aotearoa

Global military spending increase: Militarism will cost us the earth

Despite the rapidly escalating climate emergency and humanitarian crises around the world, global military spending increased to its highest ever recorded level last year according to new figures released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) today – the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

SIPRI has estimated global military expenditure last year was at least $2,240 billion (US) – a spending increase of 3.7% in real terms in 2022 (a 6.5% nominal increase in current prices without adjusting for inflation) – which averages out to more than $6.1 billion (US) spent every day. [1]

By way of contrast, on average more than 13,600 children under the age of five died every day last year from mainly preventable causes – lack of access to adequate food, clean water and basic medicines – a figure UNICEF describes as an “immense, intolerable” loss of life. [2] This is one of the prices paid, the collateral damage that is seldom talked about, for maintaining armed forces in a state of combat readiness around the world.

It is inexcusable that many states – including New Zealand – continue to prioritise spending on combat-ready armed forces over human health and wellbeing, and care for the planet. Over the past few years both the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly escalating climate emergency have devastated lives and livelihoods around the world, highlighted and exacerbated systemic social, economic and political inequities, and exposed multiple flaws in government spending and other priorities, including the folly of maintaining armed forces in a constant state of combat readiness when there are so many other more pressing needs.

It is more obvious than ever before that military spending does nothing to address the major global threats and their local impacts, whether a pandemic, obscene levels of poverty and social inequity, or the climate catastrophe – instead, military spending diverts resources that could be put to far better use.

Every dollar of military expenditure is a dollar taken away from socially useful spending – a dollar that could be used to take real action on climate change, to ensure a decent standard of living for all, and to ensure health and social welfare systems can function well in national, regional or global emergencies: it is a dollar that could be used to save lives, to promote climate justice, flourishing communities and care for the planet, rather than being spent on endless preparations for war.

Now more than ever, with the future of life on earth at stake, states must work together to find sustainable solutions, instead of continuing to pour public money into wasteful destructive military activity – the ultimate in unsustainability, with military emissions estimated to be at least 5.5% of the global total.

The five largest military spenders in 2022 were the US (39% of the global total), China (13%), Russia (3.9%), India (3.6%) and Saudi Arabia (3.3%), which together accounted for 63% of world military spending. [1] Military expenditure decreased in Africa (-5.3%) last year, but increased in four of the five geographical regions, with the highest increase in Europe (+13%), followed by the Middle East (+3.2%), then Asia and Oceania (+2.7%) and the Americas (+0.3). Overall in 2022, the military burden (military spending as a share of gross domestic product) globally was 2.2%. [1]

• New Zealand’s military spending

While New Zealand does not feature in the SIPRI table ranking the highest increases in military spending around the world this year as it did in 2020 [3], that is simply because other states increased their spending by more, not because there has been any reduction in New Zealand’s military spending.

Despite the urgent need for action on climate change, as well as the desperate need for increased funding for essential public services including health, education, housing and support for persons with disabilities, the New Zealand government continues to prioritise military spending.

In last year’s ‘Wellbeing’ Budget, military spending was a total $6,077,484,000 – an average of more than $116.8 million every week, and a 10.4% increase on actual spending in 2021. [4] The spectre of an additional $20 billion (NZ) to be spent over the next decade on increased combat capability, warships and military aircraft continues to threaten the possibility of substantive action on human health and wellbeing, and climate justice. [4]

The ongoing prioritising of military spending – whether here in Aotearoa or around the world – is a reflection of the destructive deadly ideology of militarism, which focuses on outdated narrow military security concepts that continue to harm the future of humanity and the planet, rather than real human security that meets the needs of all.

It is truly shameful that military spending continues to rise in the midst of ongoing social inequities, the rapidly worsening climate catastrophe and humanitarian crises: a transition from combat-ready armed forces to civilian agencies to meet the needs of all peoples and the planet is long overdue. [5]

The IPCC has warned that if we want to have a liveable future, taking the right action now is needed for the transformational change essential for a sustainable, equitable world [6] – clearly it is time to invest in the future for peoples and planet, and budget for peace, not war. Unless there is an immediate and meaningful change in states’ priorities, militarism will cost us the earth.

Read the original post on Peace Movement Aotearoa’s Facebook.