On this Global Day of Action on Military Spending, 13 April 2015, Pax Christi International expresses deep concern about the scandal of excessive military spending in a world where human and ecological well-being are in dire need of investment. Figures recently published by SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, estimate world military expenditures in real terms for 2014 at roughly $ 1.8 trillion, a significant increase from the already shocking $ 1.75 trillion spent in 2013.
The top 10 spenders in 2014 are the United States (USA), China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, United Kingdom, India, Germany, Japan and South Korea. Although the USA has decreased its military expenditure to some extent due to limits imposed by Budget Control Act, China and Russia, but especially Saudi Arabia, have significantly increased their budgets.
While Western Europe’s military expenditures have continued to fall due to austerity measures, spending increased again in Central Europe, led by Poland. Military expenditures in Ukraine are significantly higher and there are signs that the crisis over Ukraine is leading to a further increase spending in many Central European and Nordic countries in 2015.
SIPRI figures point to large increases in military spending in Eastern Europe, including in Russia and Ukraine, in the Middle East and in Africa, both Northern and sub-Saharan. A significant increase is also evident in Asia and Oceania, led by China.
Pax Christi International is very concerned about and wishes to bring attention to the increasing military expenditures in the following regions and countries:
- Africa (significant increase). Top 5 spenders in 2014 are Algeria, Angola, Morocco, South Africa and Libya. Increasing military expenditure in Republic of Congo, Namibia, Zambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Seychelles, Algeria, Cape Verde, Tanzania and South Sudan.
- Middle East (significant increase). Top 5 spenders are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, Israel and Iran. Increase in Lebanon and Iraq.
- Asia and Oceania (significant increase). Top 5 are China, Japan, India, South Korea and Australia. Increase in Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia.
- Europe. Top 5 are Russia, France, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Increase in Ukraine, Montenegro, Poland and Malta.
- Central and South America. Top 5 are Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Chili. Increase in Paraguay and Mexico.
Roughly three-quarters of all countries in the world imported major conventional weapons during 2010-2014. Just 10 countries accounted for roughly half of all imports of major conventional weapons during this period. The USA and Russia dominate global arms exports concerning major conventional weapons. The USA accounted for 31 % and Russia has 27 % of the market (2010 – 2014).
Middle East Conflicts Give Hefty Boost to Arms Merchants
The ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Israel/Palestine have helped spiral arms sales to the Middle East upwards. The primary beneficiaries are the USA and Russia, whose overall arms exports show a marked increase through 2014, with China lagging behind.
Arms sales to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE increased by 71 % from 2005 to 2009, accounting for 54 % of imports to the Middle East for the period 2010 – 2014. Saudi Arabia rose to become the second largest importer of major weapons worldwide and increased the volume of its arms imports four times in recent years.
Several GCC states, specifically Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, are significant suppliers of weapons, mostly unofficial and clandestine, to some of the warring factions in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. These states have rapidly modernized their militaries, primarily with arms from the USA and Europe. The GCC states, along with Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Turkey in the wider Middle East, are scheduled to receive further large orders of major arms in the coming years.
Pax Christi International is concerned that the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union will provide ready markets for more arms transfers. Therefore, we call for more effective diplomatic efforts and political peace processes in dealing with these ongoing hot spots on our planet.
Disarmament for Development
Pax Christi International is convinced that, given political will, by reducing funding for the military sector, significant amounts of money could be made available for social and environmental projects, first of all domestically, but also in other countries, especially the poorest.
The re-allocation of funding from the production and trading of arms is essential to social and ecological justice. The disparity of resources between situations dedicated to human development or environmental protection and those dedicated to armaments is a fundamental injustice in the global political order. Re-allocation of resources from wasteful and dangerous weapons programs to the constructive and peaceful purposes of global human development and protecting the integrity of creation would undo shameful imbalances in public funding and institutional capabilities.
Governments should decrease their military spending and put peace and development at the centre of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Although efforts have been made to promote a human security approach, there are still gaps between rhetoric and reality. Political authorities should do more regarding preventive diplomacy by investing in disarmament for development.
Pax Christi International has been advocating for demilitarisation and disarmament since its creation and keeps being active with different coalitions concerning conventional and non-conventional weapons. Military investment is a significant global problem which is frequently ignored.
Brussels, 13 April 2015