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Military expenditures in 2014

Today is the fifth Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) initiated by the International Peace Bureau. It coincides with the release of data on global military expenditure from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

SIPRI’s latest figures suggest that:

- Global military spending in 2014 was roughly $1.77 trillion, signalling for the third year running a decrease in real terms.

-The overall reduction registered in Western countries has been mainly driven by the fall of United States’ spending (-6.5 per cent). This is largely a consequence of budget deficit control measures imposed by the U.S. legislature. Europe recorded a slight increase in 2014 (+0.6 per cent), driven by an 8.4 per cent increase in Eastern Europe, with Ukraine showing an increase of 23 percent. Western Europe continues to show a general decrease in spending, which is clearly not coming from policy decisions, but is rather a result of the austerity measures adopted by states.

-In all the other regions of the world, besides Latin America and the Caribbean (-1.3 per cent), 2014 continued the trend from previous years: states are continuing to re-arm themselves. The biggest budgets’ increases have been recorded in Asia/Oceania (+5 per cent), the Middle East (+5.2 per cent), and Africa (5.9 per cent), which once again recorded the largest regional increase. Unsurprisingly, the top spenders in each region are countries involved either in regional disputes or struggling with internal tensions or conflicts.

SIPRI’s figures show that significant increases in military expenditures are taking place in countries where there are armed conflicts and serious human rights’ violations. This is not a coincidence. Investments in military-related areas can represent a major source of regional instability and internal conflicts. Firstly, an investment in military capabilities often comes at the expense of investments in human needs. Secondly, given the context of human insecurity generated by weapons, the funds that are designated to development run the risk of being absorbed by the expensive emergency relief and rehabilitation programmes costs that often follows armed conflict situation.

Human security is seriously under stress in the West too, despite the decreasing trend in military expenditures. In the West austerity measures have meant, above all, cuts to social security programmes rather than cuts to military investments. Some cuts in the United States’ military budget has occurred, but it is still by far and large the biggest spender in military sector.

WILPF urges states to stop investing in weapons and start to investing in people’s real needs, such as health care, social welfare, education, and gender equality. It is imperative to move the money from the military sector in order to invest in human development. This would represent a true investment in peace and security.

Don’t forget to check out our info-graphics on military spending on RCW’s Facebook page here.

Also, see our publication You Get What You Pay For, which compares military spending with spending on gender equality and the amounts of money needed to achieve the MDGs.

For further background information, see our fact sheet on military spending.