In the latest figures, world military expenditure reached an all-time high of $1.75 trillion. The UK ranked fourth, spending £39 billion. The government protects the military budget, while subjecting vital public services to drastic spending cuts.
For too long we have lived with the myth that high military spending maintains peace, creates jobs and combats terrorism. This myth is promoted by governments and by multinational arms companies who benefit from the global arms trade politically and economically. It prevents the money being spent on tackling real challenges such as relieving poverty, improving health, and protecting the environment.
We come together now, as people concerned with peace, social justice and environmental justice, to call for a new approach to our common security that will tackle the real problems of our world; an approach which addresses the root causes of conflict, including environmental problems, inequality and access to resources. Military responses, with their real and hidden costs, do not help; they threaten human security.
We call for:
- military spending to be shifted towards social and environmental needs. These needs should take priority over aircraft carriers, long range strike aircraft, armed drones, weapons exports and weapons of mass destruction.
- no replacement of the UK’s nuclear weapons system, Trident. Redirecting its cost alone could prevent many of the key public sector cuts in the UK.
- a new thinking involving civil society and government to create a clear programme of action for spending, research and investment to build sustainable, common security at national and international levels.
- the huge subsidy to the arms industry to be redirected towards renewable energy and energy saving measures, allowing diversification and conversion of the arms industry, and enabling our public resources to tackle a huge cause of human insecurity, climate change.
- grassroots groups, networks, and organisations to work together across their ‘issue’ boundaries, to share experiences and expertise that will inspire others to work for a common security.