Delivering sustainable cuts to global military spending

The 5% Campaign

Divert. Transform. Sustain

A campaign for civil society north and south

  • An international campaign to deliver deep sustainable cuts to excessive global military spending in order to redirect savings to global wants and needs.
  • Via a feasible two-stage ‘5%’ formula applicable by civil society across the globe
  • Delivering a new ‘structural’ campaign to expose the winners & losers in the global military spending relationship: governments & defence industries; citizens & environment.

The primary task of the Five Percent campaign proposal is to get runaway military spending taken up as a ‘structural campaign issue’ by UK international development NGOs, working alongside partners in the global south and North America. We argue that excessive military spending is a global development issue and that current (and increasing) levels of military spending – especially on the global scale-  has been ignored for far too long.

The Five Percent proposal offers a ‘road-map’ for civil society around the world to demand cuts to excessive military spending and to take up the international solidarity campaign call – ‘Don’t Buy Don’t Sell’.  We are fast approaching $2trillion p/a on global military spending. This is without the ‘costs’ of actual war (ie veterans, environmental and infrastructure costs etc). It is doubly scandalous at times of austerity that nations are increasing military budgets while public services are being cut.

Our proposal argues that we need to place excessive global military spending alongside other established international development  ‘structural’ campaigns in order to divert taxpayers money to better use, whether that be international ‘development’ focused or in support of the global green economy, and, as a result of a more intense spotlight on it, become more widely integrated into civil society dialogue and activism.

By joining the ranks of debt cancellation and tax justice, military spending savings could be regarded as yet one more significant ‘new’ revenue stream, redirecting the funds captured to serving the needs of the global community. Inevitably, increased debate around what we mean by ‘defence’ and, central to this, the question of whose interests are really served by the ever increasing global military expenditure, would be at the heart of this effort.

Ultimately, this brings us back to the fundamental need to see military spending as every bit as central to understanding  power, poverty,  economic collapse, unjust distribution of resources as other structural campaigns like debttradetax, climate change and most recently the so-called ‘war on drugs’.  It is not an adjunct to any of these issues – it is implicated in each and every one of them.

As leading activist and author of Shadow World Andrew Feinstein has said, ‘neoliberalism needs the war machine’. And as we see ever greater movement of peoples due to conflict and climate change, this is doubly true as the movement of peoples creates an opportunity for an even greater military ‘security’ presence.

THE 5% FORMULA: WHAT IS IT?

The 5% Formula is a TWO-PART mechanism to achieve major, year-on-year cuts to global military spending over 10 years and beyond. It is a long-term, sustainable campaign, with a top-line demand that works for civil society groups in every country where there is a perceived value in challenging policies concerning military spending.

The first decade calls on the top 20 spenders (who account for 87% of $1.7 trillion world spending) to cut their military spending by 5% each year for decade.  This would see annual global military spending cut by 40% after the first decade, back to mid 1990s spending levels ie $1 trillion dollars, the lowest in recent history (‘lowest’ still being far too high). This would deliver an estimated $700 billion to be redirected to core urgent human and environmental needs.

After the first 10 years, we call upon all nations to adopt the 5% threshold rule to sustainably restrain the global military spending – no country allows any increase in military spending to outstrip economic growth. Most economies grow less than 3% annually; this effectively translates as 2% annual reduction to their military spending.

For example:

 0% economic growth = 5% cut to annual military spend

2% growth = 3% cut to annual military spend

5% growth = no increase

7% growth = only 2% increase on annual military spend.

GLOBAL MILITARY SPENDING MUST BE CHALLENGED, REDUCED AND REDIRECTED BECAUSE:

  • The ‘business’ of the defence industry does not advance or respect notions of ‘sensible defence’ spending when so much profit is to be gained from contracts and/or war. Its close relationship with governments around the world is central to this.
  • Double standards. Approximately 70% of arms sales are made by the permanent five nations of the UN Security Council charged with keeping the peace of the world (USA, France, UK, Russia, China) – and the majority of those arms sales go to the global south.
  • This has consequences for development across the global south. It is reflected in the carnage of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other developing nations where profits are made from conflict while societies are destroyed. Selling arms with one hand and delivering aid with the other, is governmental hypocrisy
  • $2 trillion p/a on military while SDGS struggle to be funded is unacceptable. Moreover, increased inequality undermines local, national and international security.Poverty can drive conflict. Over 900 million people in the world are hungry;  40% of people in the world live on less than US$2 per day
  • Climate change. Oil is a driver for conflict in many parts of the world and is linked to increased military spending; climate change induced conflict is a development issue (ie water wars) as is the increasing role of military planning linked to climate refugee flows from global south to north.
  • Nuclear weapons are often misguidedly overlooked by wider civil society yet they comprise a huge element of military spending; are the ultimate un-useable lethal weapon sucking money from domestic needs; and they are also increasingly are part of the developing world agenda.

All these factors conspire to escalate military spending and crucially undermine international development goals. UK int’l development NGOs and partners in the global south can play a leading role in driving a ground-breaking campaign to:

  • expose and reduce the malign power and influence of the defence industry over governments and society, in the global north and global south so as to:
  • reduce military spending and divert savings into a transformative funding stream delivering social justice and meaningful investment in conflict prevention and peacekeeping
  • reduce military spending and divert savings to deliver a sustainable, non-fossil fuel, green economy that addresses the many dimensions of climate (in)justice.

MILITARY SPENDING IS A DEVELOPMENT ISSUE

This proposal stands on the shoulders of those in the peace movement who have long campaigned on the war-spending/arms trade issues, but it is an area that the major players in the development sector have not sought to take on in the same way with the same courage. Moreover, as ‘development’ is interlinked with climate change and the military has a major (albeit relatively unknown) role in climate change, this proposal also speaks to everyone concerned with climate change.

As we head towards the $2 trillion p/a global military spend red-line, we should all be deeply concerned, for many reasons.  A far greater civil society effort is needed to place military spending in the spotlight as we enter yet more uncertain times.

We Are Many movie

This campaign proposal is part of our ongoing commitment to this issue. Tipping Point Film Fund has been a lead partner on the feature-length documentary We Are Many directed by Amir Amirani and released in 2015, with a second wave release to mark the Chilcot Report in 2016.  We Are Many explores the untold legacy of the global anti-war movement mobilized at the time of the Iraq invasion; is about the power of people coming together and the consequences of excessive war/military spending on us, the 99%. It  includes interviews with more than 50 leading activists from across the world.

Download this brief introduction (pdf).

More

Read Full Report: The Five Percent Campaign (pdf also available) and/or the Executive Summary (pdf also available)