This year’s IPB’s GDAMS Geneva seminar, held on 6 April, served also as a prepcomm for the Berlin Congress. The programme included 4 presentations, mainly on humanitarian financing and civil-military coordination, and was followed by a short IPB film about alternatives to violence in dealing with terrorism. The discussion raised important issues about the role of the military and its financing. See full report here.
MILITARY COSTS v. HUMANITARIAN NEEDS
For obvious reasons, several news outlets have dubbed 2015 – and no doubt 2016 also ‐ as the Year of the Refugee. In May 2015 the UN Secretary‐General established the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, in preparation for the Global Humanitarian Summit to be held in Istanbul in May. The Panel analysed both needs and resources in this area and assessed the gap as around $15 billion:
The world spends today around US$ 25 billion to provide life‐saving assistance to 125 million people devastated by wars and natural disasters. Despite the generosity of many donors, the gap between the resources needed for humanitarian action and the available resources is increasing…
More recently OCHA assessed the overall needs as $20.1 billion. At the same time the world’s governments spent $1776 billion on the military sector. It is unfortunate that when the Panel considers that “the deficiency in global aid could be solved by implementing new policies designed to tap into creative sources of funding” it does not point to the elephant in the room.
PRIME symposium “World Military Expenditure and Japan’s Choices”
This first Japanese Prepcomm for the Berlin congress was held on January 31, 2016 under the auspices of Meijigakuin University. Professor Takao Takahara (International Peace Research Institute (PRIME), Faculty of International Studies) put together an interesting programme.
The speakers examined first the global picture of military expenditure (Colin Archer, IPB), and US spending and research funding for military projects (Subrata Ghoshroy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), then at PM Abe’s new reforms of Japanese military policy (Akira Kawasaki, Peace Boat), and finally militarisation of outer space (Atsushi Fujioka, Ritsumeikan University).
The symposium was attended by some 60 participants, both students and activists, and was moderated by Prof. Takahara himself and Yayoi Tsuchida of Gensuikyo. While the meeting did not formulate any specific conclusions, the presentations are worth reading as background material on these important and indeed complex topics.
PRIME plans to come up with further public fora like this one, before and perhaps also after, the Berlin Congress, since, according to Prof Takahara, “the topic is especially important in the contemporary Japanese context; we might observe a major change to our demilitarized economy and society.”
by Daniel Costa-Roberts
In the face of a moribund economy and growing tensions with the west, Moscow will move ahead with a planned decade-long upgrade of the Russian military, raising 2015 defense spending to 3.3 trillion rubles ($50 billion), a 30 percent nominal increase over last year. Continue reading–>
For the last few years, peace groups in many countries have focused attention on worldwide military expenditure with a Global Day of Action, which took place this week.
Hundreds of civil society groups draw attention to the way the world’s $1.75 trillion military spending fuels and worsens conflict, and undermines social spending. The UK has the fourth highest military spending in the world, behind only the USA, China and Russia. It also counts among the world’s top seven arms exporters. This arms trade is seen by politicians as an essential part of both Britain’s industrial base and its place as a player on the world stage.
There is a government department, the Defence and Security Organisation [DSO], which gives expert advice on political and economic factors so that companies can target their products as effectively as possible. DSO employs 54% of all sector-specific staff in Britain’s export support department – UK Trade and Investment.
High-profile visits maintain links with potential buyers. David Cameron toured the Gulf States in November, and Prince Charles Saudi Arabia in February co-incident with BAE signing a new deal with the Saudis.
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