Move the Money! Disarm to Develop! Military Spending and the UN Post 2015 Development Agenda

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
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The International Peace Bureau

The International Peace Bureau calls for a 10% yearly reduction in military costs to benefit the implementation of the UN Post 2015 Development Agenda The world’s governments are spending more than 1.7 trillion US dollars a year in military costs, more than during the peak of the cold war period. Some 100 billion dollars of these resources are devoured by nuclear weapons, whose production, modernization and use should be ruled out on military, political, legal, ecological and moral grounds. Our resources must be used to meet the global climate change, which is threatening life itself and warrants urgent remedial actions and an holistic approach. It requires changing attitudes and rethinking of unsustainable and destructive consumption and production patterns.

Only some 10 % of the annual military costs would be enough to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Substantial reductions in military costs could eliminate the crushing poverty whereby nearly one third of humanity lives in insufferable conditions, a majority being women and children. Since one year military spending equals 615 years of the UN annual budget, such a reduction in military costs would also strengthen the United Nations’ efforts and possibilities to “ save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. 

Excessive military expenditures not only represent a theft from those who are hungry and suffer, but are also an ineffective means of obtaining human security and a culture of peace. Such a misuse of the world’s resources is shameful and unacceptable. Peace and disarmament is becoming a question of survival for people and for the planet. We have to get our priorities right and move the money to meet the real needs and challenges. 

Rich and poor states alike are pressured into arms races, spending more on armament than they need and can afford. It is unacceptable to continue a process of militarization, often outside democratic control, that mainly serves the arms producers and sometimes also brings corruption. In order to move towards just and peaceful societies, we need to address the root-causes of conflicts, not only the symptoms. Globalization, with supranational entities and multi-national corporations, has brought new challenges to the UN that may necessitate a broadening of both international laws and regulations and the relevant institutions. 

The Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states: “The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded”. The UN Charter speaks about ”resources diverted from economic and social development». At the Earth Summit in 1992, 178 states adopted Agenda 21 where ‘reducing military spending’ was one of the possible ‘innovative financing’ mechanisms for development. The High Level Panel on the UN Post 2015 Development Agenda calls for a transformative shift to recognize peace and good governance as core elements of wellbeing. 

Many civil society actors and others see the need for a qualitative and transformative goal on peace. Targets and indicators on peace and disarmament for development need further discussion. You are welcome to contribute to making our suggestions better! See preliminary suggestions next page.


Target : Reduce the world’s military budgets by 10% per year and use the resources to curb climate change and build peace and social justice. 

Preliminary Indicators:

- Reduce excessive and destructive arms production and convert to civil production.

- Work actively towards general and complete disarmament under international control

- Reduce the availability of weapons and ratify and implement the Arms Trade Treaty

- Establish major international funds to meet the needs for peace and conflict resolution, social justice and the reversal of climate change with the savings from the reduction in the military budgets

- Reduce military spending by promoting and nurturing trust among countries and people.

- Halve the number of incidents of armed conflicts and civilian and military casualties in armed violence

- Urge full reporting by all countries on their military expenditures and international arms transfers to the relevant UN transparency instruments

- Establish urgently a new legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons

- Stop all production, modernization and proliferation of nuclear arms and other arms of mass destruction, and close down and dismantle nuclear weapons production plants and military bases with nuclear facilities

- Intensify independent research on how to get rid of waste from the nuclear arms industry and nuclear energy plants, and provide the public with correct information of the dangers

- Establish a system of taxation of international financial transactions earmarked for the work of international peace organizations (peace tax)

- Develop a global ethical code of conduct for scientists that would halt research that is to the detriment of humanity and the planet

- Ensure full gender equality in all decisions making bodies on international, national and local levels dealing with peace, security and handling of conflict

 - Study seriously and independently the relations between nuclear energy and nuclear arms and the risks for the health and survival of people and the planet

- Strengthen the conflict resolution capacities of the UN toward the reduction of armed violence and the ultimate elimination of war, the fundamental purpose of the UN.

Reference: Opportunity Costs. Military spending and the UN Development Agenda. A view from the IPB

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Move the Money! Disarm to Develop! Military Spending and the UN Post 2015 Development Agenda