15/02/2018 |

The Davos Forum and military spending

On the 22 to 26 January 2018, the 48th edition of the World Economic Forum took place in Davos. The theme of the 2018 edition was « Creating a share future in a fracture world ». An ambitious objective at a time when 65.6 millions of people are forced to flee their home because of the war and insecurity.

Established in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, the Forum was originally designed for business leaders with the aim to debate together social and economic issues. In 1974, in the context of the Kippur war, heads of state were invited for the first time to join the forum. What was at first an informal forum attained an institutional dimension, and in the 80’s became the tribute to resolve international conflicts. Thus in 1989 Turkey and Greece, on the verge of conflict, signed there the Davos Declaration. Five years later, it was the turn of Yasser Arafat and Simon Peres to sign an agreement on Gaza and Jericho during the Davos forum. The ambitions of the forum where born.
Since 2015, the forum is recognized officially as an international organization which aims to “improve the state of the world”. But one can only wonder: how can the forum really achieve this challenging role? To what extend gathering together the elite of the world permits to pacify international relations? Especially considering the fact that among these elites invited to the forum, we find some of the top armament companies such as Airbus, AECOM, BAE Systems or Fluor Corporation. Are they really suited to accomplish the mission of “improving the state of the world”? Can we count on companies that often have the opposite interest? The fracture of the world has built the success of the arms industry; one can only doubt on their capacity to deal with climate change and peace issues.
Of course they aren’t the only sector represented in the forum. Since few years, NGO’s are invited to present their point of view on global issues. The CICR has, for instance, raised awareness over issues that will shape the humanitarian agenda, including new weapons that rise to unprecedented methods of war. However, all those debate seems very convenient. As Bill Emmot, former editor of The Economist, explained: this event was made safe from surprises and controversy. Everything is done to avoid arguments, confrontation and provocation. Is this how we improve the state of the world?
The military spending issue has once again been avoided during the forum. We consider, however, that a serious reflexion and debate on this issue is necessary to deal with the issues we are addressing today. While USA is the highest spender on military and one of the most unequal societies in the world, we can wonder if the rise of military spending isn’t the great contemporary issue. Indeed, to achieve the sustainable development goals we need to fund them. And precisely, this money can be found in the scandalously high amount of worldwide military spending. We won’t obtain a safer world with more arms and walls but with more education, solidarity and international cooperation. By observing the kind of cooperation that we find in the Davos forum, one can only wonder if this forum, where private interests are over-represented, has the required resources to “improve the state of the world”.
More than ever we need to take action and make our voices heard. The change will come from the ground and not from this high-altitude network. Let’s ask our government to cut military spending to fund human and environmental needs. Together, we can make it. Next April, when the GDAMS campaign is started, join the actions!!!