The 50 Nobelists’ appeal: spend less on the military, more on human welfare!
In December 2021, over fifty Nobel laureates and presidents of learned societies signed an appeal for a “Global Peace Dividend”. Taking stock of the accelerating global arms race, they proposed that all member states of the United Nations negotiate a common 2% reduction of their yearly military expenditure. They also suggested that one-half of the resources saved by this reduction be allocated to a global fund to fight against climate change, pandemics, and extreme poverty.
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In the period 2025-2030, the ‘peace dividend’ generated by the laureates’ proposal would exceed one trillion US dollars — an amount comparable to total investments in renewable power worldwide, and six times greater than the funds available to research and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined.
In an era of mounting challenges to human welfare, these new resources could positively impact the lives of millions, at zero cost for nations.
We, the signatories of this petition, strongly support the Nobelists’ initiative and ask you, Messrs. Guterres, Biden, Johnson, Macron, Putin and Xi, to start negotiating such an agreement as soon as possible.
Albert Einstein noted that one “cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war”. Today, leading intellectuals are laying out a path to prevent war and prepare for a prosperous common future. As Secretary-General of the United Nations and leaders of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, we ask you to take this path in our names.
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Reduce military spending by 2% in all countries. Save 1 trillion USD over 5 years to fight planetary emergencies.
World military spending has doubled since 2000. It is approaching 2 trillion US dollars per year, and is increasing in all regions of the world (*).
Individual governments are under pressure to increase military spending because others do so. The feedback mechanism sustains a spiralling arms race – a colossal waste of resources that could be used far more wisely. Past arms races have often had the same outcome: deadly and destructive conflicts.
We have a simple proposal for humankind: the governments of all UN member-states should negotiate a joint reduction of their military expenditure by 2% every year for five years.
The rationale for the proposal is simple:
- Adversary nations reduce military spending, so the security of each country is increased, while deterrence and balance are preserved.
- The agreement contributes to reducing animosity, thereby decreasing the risk of war.
- Vast resources – a ‘peace dividend’ of as much as 1 trillion USD by 2030 – are made available.
(*) Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
We propose that half of the resources freed up by this agreement are allocated to a global fund, under UN supervision, to address humanity’s grave common problems: pandemics, climate change, and extreme poverty.
The other half remains at the disposal of individual governments. All countries will therefore have significant new resources. Some of these can be used to redirect the strong research capacities of military industries towards urgently needed peaceful applications.
History shows that agreements to limit the proliferation of weapons are achievable: thanks to the SALT and START treaties, the United States and the Soviet Union have reduced their nuclear arsenals by 90% since the nineteen eighties. Such negotiations can succeed because they are rational: each actor benefits from its adversaries’ armaments reduction, and so does humanity as a whole.
Humankind faces risks that can only be averted through cooperation.
Let us cooperate, instead of fighting among ourselves.
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