With countries waging war coupled with excessive military spending, top United Nations official on disarmament affairs today said large military expenditures deny developing countries resources for social and economic development.
In her message to mark the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, encouraged world leaders to reassess their countries’ defence needs and consider shifting priorities and resources to international social, economic and human development.
Ms. Kane highlighted the vast hidden human cost of excessive military spending. He pointed out that massive military expenditures deprive the world of the resources required to address climate change, food security, natural and man-made disasters and global epidemics.
The expenditures is also taking up limited resources that would be used eradicate poverty and illiteracy and provide basic health care and education, she said.
The Global Day of Action on Military Spending was launched by an international network, led by the International Peace Bureau, on 12 April 2011 to highlight global military spending.
Ms. Kane noted that 66 UN Member States provided data last year which showed that they spent $1.22 trillion on their militaries in 2010.
World Bank estimates that less than five per cent of that sum would be enough to fund efforts in poorer countries.
On April 2011, UN warned that the money spent by countries to achieve targets such as eliminating poverty, educating all children and providing decent health care is still only a fraction of what they spend on arming themselves.
UN reports that military spending has soared by half over just the past five years, with total expenditure now estimated at more than $1.2 trillion worldwide.
Reports say less than one tenth of annual military expenditures would be enough to achieve agreed development goals, lifting all people out of extreme poverty by 2015.
In addition, the U.S. accounts for almost half of the world’s military spending. Iran’s defense budget is less than 1 percent, and the defense budgets of Russia and China are each less than 10 percent, of that of the U.S. The U.S. and its Western allies supply more than 95 percent of global arms sales.