The top United Nations official on disarmament affairs today encouraged world leaders to reassess their countries’ defence needs, explore confidence-building measures for global security, and consider shifting priorities and resources to international social, economic and human development.
In her message to mark the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, highlighted the vast hidden human cost of excessive military spending, pointing out that massive military expenditures deprive the world of the resources required to address global challenges such as climate change, food security, natural and man-made disasters and global epidemics.
Large military expenditures deny developing countries resources for social and economic development, 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. Referring to World Bank estimates, she pointed out that less than five per cent of that sum would be enough to fund efforts in poorer countries to achieve the internationally-agreed poverty alleviation and social development targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The High Representative cautioned that greater military spending in one country often results in heightened sense of insecurity in other countries thus creating a vicious cycle of arms race that undermines regional and international security.
She emphasized that transparency in military expenditure is particularly important in building confidence between States.
Reiterating the General Assembly’s call for greater openness in military expenditure, Ms. Kane also urged all Member States to report their military spending annually to the Office of the Secretary-General through the standardized reporting system, known as the UN Report on Military Expenditures.