Monday September 20, 2021

Human security

Global military spending continued to reach record levels in 2020, rising almost 4 percent in real terms to US$1.83 trillion, even despite the severe economic contractions caused by the pandemic. The United States spends two-fifths of the world’s total, more than the next ten countries combined, and still cannot afford to prevent 50 million of its own citizens suffering from food insecurity. Most shamefully, the United Kingdom is massively boosting its arms budget – the largest rise in almost 70 years, including a vast increase to its nuclear weapons stockpile – while cutting aid to the world’s poorest by 30 percent.

Consider what a fraction of military budgets could achieve if that public money was diverted to real human needs, instead of sustaining the corrupt and profitable industry of war:

Meeting Goals 1 and 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals – ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’ and ‘Zero hunger’ – would barely exceed 3 percent of global annual military spending, according to the UN’s Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

With the U.S. military budget of $750 billion in 2020, it could feed the world’s hungry and still spend twice as much on its military than China, writes peace activist Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK.

The annual nuclear weapon budget worldwide is 1,000 percent – or 10 times – the combined budget of both the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO), according to the Global Campaign on Military Spending.

Just 0.04 percent of global military spending would have funded the WHO’s initial Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, according to Tipping Point North South in its Transform Defence report.

It would cost only 0.7 percent of global military spending (an estimated $141.2 billion) to vaccinate all the world’s 7.8 billion inhabitants against Covid-19, according to figures from Oxfam International.

These opportunity costs highlight our outrageously misplaced priorities during an unprecedented global health emergency. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed just how ill-prepared we are to deal with real threats to our societies, and how our ‘national security’ involves a lot more than armies, tanks and bombs. This crisis cannot be addressed by weapons of mass destruction or personnel prepared for war, but only through properly funded healthcare and other public services that protect our collective human security.

It’s time to reallocate bloated defence budgets to basic economic and social needs, as long enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Article 25 points the way forward, underscoring the necessity of guaranteeing adequate food, shelter, healthcare and social security for all.

There is an imperative need for global cooperation to support all nations in recovering and rebuilding from the pandemic. The United Nations and its frontline agencies are critically placed to avert a growing ‘hunger pandemic’, and yet are struggling to receive even minimal funding from governments.

Excerpted: ‘It's Time to End the Insanity of Colossal Military Spending and Reallocate Funds to Basic Economic and Social Needs’

Commondreams.org