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Invest in social spending, cut military spending

Global Day of Action: Invest in social spending, cut military spending

Peace Movement Aotearoa

12 April 2014

"The place to exercise austerity is in wasteful military expenditures, not in social protection."

Below is the statement from the United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order in advance of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, Monday, 14 April; followed by the details of this year's 'Dollars and sense' forum in Wellington to mark the Global Day of Action and leafletting in Auckland. The figures for global military spending during 2013 will be released at 10am (NZ time) on the Global Day of Action.

United Nations Expert Urges States To Cut Military Spending And Invest More In Human Development

Statement Marking the Global Day of Action on Military Spending - Monday 14 April 2014

11 April 2014

GENEVA – On the occasion of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, the United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, calls upon all Governments to proactively inform the public about military expenditures and to justify them:

“Every democracy must involve civil society in the process of establishing budgets, and all sectors of society must be consulted to determine what the real priorities of the population are. Lobbies, including military contractors and other representatives of the military-industrial complex, must not be allowed to hijack these priorities to the detriment of the population’s real needs.

On the basis of representative opinion polling, parliaments should implement the will of the people and significantly reduce military expenditures, whether in the field of arms production, military research, military bases abroad, surveillance of private citizens, ‘intelligence’-gathering, or overt and covert military operations. Tax revenue must be reoriented toward the promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, for research into sustainable sources of energy and for the promotion of sustainable development.

Global military spending levels constitute an unconscionable use of resources and remain at an all-time high, reaching a total of USD 1.75 trillion in 2012, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

In a world where millions of human beings live in extreme poverty, die of malnutrition and lack medical care, where pandemics continue to kill, it is imperative to pursue good faith disarmament negotiations and to shift budgets away from weapons production, war-mongering, surveillance of private persons and devote available resources to address global challenges including humanitarian relief, environmental protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation, prevention of pandemics, and the development of a green economy.

The UN Post-2015 Development Agenda can only be achieved if governments change their spending habits and give priority to strengthening national and international security through the promotion of human rights.

In my next report to the Human Rights Council September session, I intend to explore the possible impact of military expenditures on an international order which is democratic and equitable. In this respect, I will examine the level of information provided to the population on military expenditures and what safeguards exist to prevent abuses in this regard.

At this stage of my investigation, I have been unable to obtain sufficient data on the actual level of all military-related expenditures in real terms and what actual percentage of national budgets (not percentage of GNP) is spent in this regard in comparison to the percentage of national budgets devoted to education and health care, medical research and the administration of justice, for instance.

I am surprised that in the current context of global socio-economic crisis, few have voiced indignation regarding the disproportionate levels of military spending. The place to exercise austerity is in wasteful military expenditures, not in social protection.

I urge Governments to considerably reduce funds allocated to the military, not only as a disarmament issue, but also as a potential contributor to social and environmental protection and call for the holding of referenda on this issue worldwide. A ten per cent reduction in military expenditures per year would be reasonable, coupled with a programme of retraining the workforce and redirecting the resources in a manner that creates employment and advances social welfare. I also encourage all States to contribute to the UN’s annual Report on Military Expenditures by submitting complete data on national defence budgets.” Ends

Dollars and sense: Lunchtime forum on government spending priorities, Wellington

On Monday, 14 April 2014, join us for a discussion about:

• Children’s wellbeing, Deborah Morris-Travers, Advocacy Manager, UNICEF NZ
• Social Spending, Paul Barber, Policy Advisor, New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services
• Military spending, Edwina Hughes, Coordinator, Peace Movement Aotearoa
• A living wage for all workers, Lyndy McIntyre, Living Wage Campaign

Monday, 14 April 2014, From 1pm to 2pm, First floor conference room, St Andrew’s on the Terrace, 30 The Terrace, Wellington
(entry via the stairs at the back of the car park on the south side of the church) ~ BYO lunch, tea / coffee available at 12.50pm ~ RSVP at www.facebook.com/PeaceMovementAotearoa/events A Global Day of Action on Military Spending 2014 event. For more information, contact Peace Movement Aotearoa email pma@xtra.co.nz web site http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/gdams.htm A4 poster for this forum: http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/dollars-and-sense-forum2014.pdf

In Auckland: WILPF Tamaki Makaurau and Pax Christi will be handing out Global Day of Action leaflets with information about the global and national costs of military spending, from 4.30pm to 5.30pm in Queen Elizabeth Square, Britomart on Monday 14 April.

Information about the Global Day of Action in Aotearoa New Zealand is available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/gdams.htm

Ends

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