2012: Global Military Spending


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On April 17, 2012, the second Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) will be held.

GDAMS will coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's (SIPRI) new annual figures on world military expenditures.

In 2010, global military spending surged to an all-time high of US $1.63 trillion - an increase by $100 billion, even at a time of economic crisis. Figures for 2011 will certainly not show any significant change in this upward trajectory.

Indeed, recent data already published by SIPRI reveal that over the last five years (2007-2011), the volume of worldwide arms transfers was 24% higher than in the preceding period, with the top five arms importers coming from Asia. Another recent study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) demonstrates that Asia spent 262 billion dollars on military expenditures in 2011, with China accounting for about a third of it.

Not only is this of particular concern, given that several conflicts continue to threaten to inflame the Asian region, including those between India and Pakistan, and the Cross-Straits and Korean Peninsula regions, to name but a few. It also raises questions about national and global priorities, given that India and Pakistan, which rank among the world's top weapons importers, are also among the countries that have the most pressing development needs.

However, in these times of global crises, there may be a window of opportunity to operate a change of priorities, not least thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement started in the US and the Idignado movement in Spain that have re-energized the people's call for social and economic justice worldwide. Some European countries have already reduced their defense spending, while the US is considering cuts in Pentagon spending.

In this context, people on all continents will join together in joint actions on April 17 for the second edition of GDAMS, to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities.

Last year, more than 100 GDAMS events took place in 35 countries. UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte strongly endorsed the initiative. Participating organizations produced videos, staged dramatic photo opportunities, and captured the attention of major media outlets.

This year, organizers expect to double the number of events and participating countries. And to put global military spending on the agenda of the international community.

While each location will craft its own approach, all actions will have a common focus on calling attention to the overall size of global military spending. This would need in most cases to be linked to a related national (or local) issue and reality, such as the war in Afghanistan, anti-bases efforts, arms trade deals, work against small arms, resources for nonviolent conflict resolution, the Global Article 9 Campaign etc. GDAMS organizers hope that peace groups will use this as an opportunity to connect up with anti-poverty, environmental, pro-democracy organizations and others who share the same perspective.

Read GDAMS 2.0's Call to Action here (available in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, Russian and Arabic).

Check out the new video highlighting GDAMS 2011 and promoting GDAMS 2.0 here.

Visit GDAMS website for reports from last year's events, news and analyses, background information and more here.

Source: Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War, Newsletter #46, März 2012
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