What should be happening?

Divert. Transform. Sustain  ~ the Winners with 5%

The 5% formula would deliver the following outcomes:


  • Immediate and essential development needs
    • Global Health
  • Sustainable Development – reflecting Climate & Economic Justice
  • Peace/ Conflict Prevention &Human Rights


  • The Global Green Economy

Immediate and essential Development Needs of Millions.

  • It is estimated that it would cost $66 billion annually to get everyone on the planet out of extreme poverty – 4% of annual global military spending. [1] Over and above this, diverted military spending could assist in reaching more of the current MDGs – universal primary education, gender equality, improved maternal health and reduced infant mortality, combating HIV, malaria and TB; along with improved water and sanitation and many other basic human needs – and human rights.
  • Advancing the UN process on sustainable development and SDGs funding 2015 and after.  As we approach 2015 and the assessment of the MDGs successes and failures informs the plans to move forward with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals post 2015, how will this be funded? Many feel there is a critical need to include the ‘development and disarmament’ agenda into this new SDGs funding framework.

In their 2012 report, the International Peace Bureau outlines recent UN history on advancing the ‘development and disarmament agenda’:

Through the inclusion of this issue (Disarmament and Development) in the post-2015 development agenda, states will be reminded that they committed themselves to such efforts in 1992 and 2000 and are obliged to reconsider their budgeting priorities in accordance with UN Charter Article 26. Military spending as an indicator for the achievement of sustainable Development: If the post-2015 development framework comes in the form of goals, they will most certainly be accompanied by several specific targets and indicators in order to measure progress. If the call of the numerous UN agencies, think-tanks and NGOs is heard, and security and peace are included as one of the goals, we argue that military spending must also become an important indicator of this goal.

Opportunity Costs: Military Spending and the UN’s Development Agenda,
International Peace Bureau, 2012


  • Poverty to Power, Duncan Green

Examples: Funding Global Health

World Health Organization (WHO)

According to Sonia Shah:

In 1950, the WHO’s budget derived from assessed dues on member nations. Over the past few decades, that financing stream has run dry. In reaction to the perceived politicization of UN organizations such as UNESCO and the WHO, major UN donors introduced a policy of zero real growth to the UN system’s budgets in 1980 and of zero nominal growth in 1993. Starved of public financing, the WHO has had to rely upon voluntary contributions from donor countries, private philanthropists, companies, and NGOs. By 2008, voluntary contributions from private interests and others[1] now bankroll four out of every five dollars (80%) of the WHO’s budget. Thus it is now the private donors, not the WHO, who can call the shots in Geneva, and thereby shape the global health agenda. Unlike funds from assessed dues, individual donors can earmark “extra-budgetary” monies for whatever specific purpose they like, thus circumventing WHO control.

Companies most active in global health projects today hail from a narrow range of industries[2], many of which are under fire for their negative impact on public health. These private firms are playing a double game: disrupting local communities with one hand and writing big cheques to ostensibly help them with the other. Often, their core financial interests are directly at odds with the business of improving the health of the poor, in ways that are distorting the global health agenda.

The private donors’ influence is clear. The WHO allocates its regular budget to the diseases that account for the most mortality around the world. Extra-budgetary funds, in contrast, support different interests. According to an analysis of the agency’s 2004-05 budget, 91 percent of the WHO’s extra-budgetary funds were earmarked for diseases that account for just 8 percent of global mortality. Given the dominance of extra-budgetary funds in the WHO’s overall expenditures, the WHO ended up spending 60 percent of its funds on illnesses that account for just 11 percent of global mortality. A substantial portion went toward developing vaccines for infectious diseases, which – many will argue – are in line with private industry’s general preference for expensive, high-tech research over cheap, low-tech prevention. It’s hard to see how such a misalignment between the needs of the world’s sick and the distribution of WHO’s funds helps the agency meet its core mission.


  • Sonia Shah: Voluntary contributions to the World Health Organization’s budget come from private interests and others, not just private interests. The others are primarily the United States and the Gates Foundation, both of which have deep connections to the private sector and have used their influence to represent its interests. There is a general feeling among member states that rich countries such as the United States “disguise trade and commercial interests under public health,” as a Brazilian ambassador said at a recent WHO meeting. The Gates Foundation is similarly allied with private-sector interests. It’s the largest single shareholder in Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods; its global health program is led not by public health experts but by top executives from the drug industry.
  • 2 The mining industry, which includes oil and gas firms, has been at the forefront of many prominent global health projects. Non-communicable diseases cause more than half of all deaths in poor and middle-income counties. Soft-drink and snack companies, whose products increase the risk of developing NCDs, have also moved to the forefront of key global health initiatives, in particular the fight against NCDs. The industry most involved in global health initiatives is undoubtedly the drug industry.

Health Spending

Laurie Garrett at the Council on Foreign Relations observes:

Global health programs now teeter on the edge of disaster. The world economic crisis and the politics of debt reduction are threatening everything from malaria control and AIDS treatment to well-baby programs and health-care worker training efforts. And even if the existing global public health architecture survives this time of parsimony and austerity, it will have been remodeled along the way.

As important as the totals is the shift in donor composition. The Gates Foundation, now combining the philanthropic assets of the Gates family and Warren Buffett, is responsible for 68 percent of all private giving for global health, dwarfing the efforts of even the largest public or international institutions. Power followed the money, and by 2005 the annual World Health Assembly, which governs WHO, was convening to listen to Gates’ suggestions, and today few policy initiatives or normative standards set by the WHO are announced before they have been casually, unofficially vetted by Gates Foundation staff.

In 1999, for example, total health spending in developing countries was about $5.6 billion, with the United States government providing roughly a third of that and U.S. private donors another tenth. In the spring of 2000, the Clinton administration officially defined HIV and emerging diseases as national security threats, which expanded U.S. grounds for engagement in global health. The call resonated with antipoverty activists, health advocacy groups such as Médecins Sans Frontiers, Partners in Health, and ACT UP; and institutions such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the United Nations AIDS Program. Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, stepped up their philanthropic efforts in global health through their Gates Foundation.

With the surge in public support for global health came increased attention from private individuals, corporations, and foundations, leading some to call the decade “the age of generosity.” By 2008, global health enjoyed an estimated $16 billion pot of public-funding gold — and with private funding and poor countries’ own increased health spending included, the total spent on public health for the world’s poor reached about $27 billion.

But then the global financial crisis hit and as Europe’s economic situation worsened, the region reduced its overseas commitment-to-disbursements ratio. Italy, which donated nearly $1 billion annually from 2001 to 2008, gave nothing in 2009 and has given almost nothing since. Greece provided more than $50 million in global health assistance in 2007 and now gives nothing. Iceland stopped making commitments and contributions in 2008, Portugal in 2009, and Spain in 2010. In 2009, 94 percent of all global health promises made by the European Union and its member countries were actually disbursed, but by the end of 2010 only 78 percent were, and the gap appears to have widened further in 2011.

Total estimated expenditures worldwide on health care in 2010, meanwhile, hit $5.3 trillion, with U.S. domestic spending accounting for nearly half of that. Even at its recent peak, the amount of money spent on the health of the world’s poorest people, who suffer most of humanity’s infectious and preventable diseases, represented merely .0005 percent of worldwide health spending.

The Five Percent Formula – new funds

The global spending on the health of the world’s poor was less than $30 billion in 2008, compared to the global military expenditure of $1.5 trillion in the same year – a mere 2%.

The 5% Formula would deliver $300 billion for international development in the first decade – that is $30 billion a year on average. WHO’s current biennium 2012-2013 budget is $3.9 billion (roughly $2 billion per year).  Out of this $30 billion annual fund, $1 billion – $2 billion can be readily used to fund WHO to remove its reliance on privates interests and others. To tackle a global issue such as health, the proven and effective way is through the steering of international organisations, such as WHO. Private donors, though important and often with good intention, lack transparency, accountability and democracy. This ‘new’ sustainable stream of public funding for WHO could ensure that it can again focus on its core missions and managing global health projects with the full involvement of the countries concerned both in both formulation and implementation level levels.

Examples: Sustainable Development

Fund Civil Society and the Economic and Climate Justice Agendas

  • Funding the strengthening of global civil society capacity is critical to ‘development’  so that it can hold ‘power’ to account, be that its own leaders, multinational corporations, or international institutions such as the World Bank or IMF.

Particular focus on structural issues such as food sovereignty, land issues and trade; tax-related campaigning; environment and climate change related rights. This is a truly effective way to ensure ‘transparency’ and ‘good governance’ and at the same time, recognises the inter-connectedness of how issues such as the global trade system negatively impacts on communities via trade and/or environmental damage.

  • This diverted funding could also be partially allocated to help deliver more debt cancellation.

Climate Change

  • Funding to address the environmental and human climate emergency.

Military spending cuts should be put into the climate funding mix so that a significant ‘new’ revenue source can be factored into calculations concerning mitigation, adaptation, transfer of new technologies and investment in the global green economy.

What happened on finance?

Although some countries (including Germany, France, UK, Denmark) pledged finance at Doha, amounting in total to around $10 billion, there was no additional finance offered by the US. Moreover, countries failed to agree on a firm figure for finance for the period 2013-2015. The text only “encourages” parties not to allow levels of funding to drop from the $30 billion pledged for 2010-2012, when in fact it needs to increase significantly (Greenpeace and developing countries were calling for $60 billion for the 2013-2015 period). The increase is need to help countries adapt to the growing impacts of climate change, and to scale up towards the $100 billion a year by promised by 2020 by Governments in the run up to the Copenhagen summit.

Doha Greenpeace briefing, 2012

As we say earlier, the fossil fuel economy is not just a driver for climate change – it is a driver for instability and therefore increased military spending. So reducing spend on military and increasing spend on climate financing as well as the green economy is a win-win all round.

Developing countries have been experiencing the impact of climate change for many years and now, the increasing number of ‘weather events’ in the developed world, is bringing home this reality to the hitherto relatively disengaged publics of the rich nations – also the main culprits of climate change. Polar melting, soil erosion, deforestation, ocean pollution – the list is endless; the impact on human society catastrophic. Yet the response by governments and business has been to fail miserably at turning events around – whether setting and meeting targets or providing finance –or indeed, investing in the green economy at home or abroad.

At the recent Doha meeting (Dec 2012) climate finance remained insufficient with only US$10 billion on the table. Nothing was done to scale up funding for vulnerable countries towards the previously agreed target of US$100 billion per year. Yet developing countries need climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building for negotiations as at Doha, to support their transition to low-carbon economies.

Examples: Fund Peacekeeping; Early Warning & Conflict Prevention; Post-conflict Cleanup

The peace movement; those working on disarmament agendas or conflict prevention, conflict resolution; or peacekeeping – all this work combined, constitutes a hugely diverse and global community. It embraces grassroots activism such as was mobilised by the anti-war movement of 2003 (15-30m million marched on a single day, Feb 15th) or the anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s that is once again in the public eye through the Global Zero initiative.  It campaigns on a diverse range of issues and has a proud – and often effective – tradition of non-violent resistance.

It has academic centres of excellence, think tanks and policy groups working across a whole variety of subjects which intersect with (under)development, human rights and environmental concerns.  This is a grossly underfunded sector, which should benefit from funds reallocated from war to peace.

Meanwhile, the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations is profoundly underfunded; conflict prevention and conflict resolution poor relatives to the business of war-making;  funding demobilisation of combatants equally under-resourced yet essential to post conflict resolution; and the remains of conflict last way beyond the end of conflict – landmines, cluster bombs, depleted uranium.  Equally vital is the disarmament work to reduce nuclear stockpiles, while the search for missing nuclear materials post the break-up of the Soviet Union continues.

All these areas of work need much more funding and need to be taken far more seriously by politicians and public alike.

UN Fourth Committee – Special Political and Decolonization

The Special Political and Decolonization Committee deals with a variety of subjects which include those related to decolonization, Palestinian refugees and human rights, peacekeeping, mine action, outer space, public information, atomic radiation and University for Peace.

“Overburdened, underfunded, overstretched peacekeeping operations create ‘yawning gap’ between expectations, performance.”

A shortage of critical equipment required to carry out United Nations mandates in many peacekeeping missions had created a “yawning gap” between expectations and performance…. in the flagship mission that delegates maintained was already overburdened, underfunded, and overstretched, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, as it concluded its annual debate on peacekeeping.