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Global military spending falls

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

According to figures released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) today, the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, world military expenditure totalled $1.75 trillion in 2012, a fall of 0.5 per cent in real terms since 2011.

"The fall - the first since 1998 - was driven by major spending cuts in the USA and Western and Central Europe, as well as in Australia, Canada and Japan. The reductions were, however, substantially offset by increased spending in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America. China, the second largest spender in 2012, increased its expenditure by 7.8 per cent ($11.5 billion). Russia, the third largest spender, increased its expenditure by 16 per cent ($12.3 billion). Despite the drop, the global total was still higher in real terms than the peak near the end of the cold war." - 'World military spending falls, but China, Russia's spending rises, says SIPRI', SIPRI, 15 April 2013.

The comparatively small drop in military expenditure last year took place in the context of overall spending cuts by governments around the world, and unfortunately does not mark a genuine shift away from excessive and wasteful military spending towards increased spending on meeting human needs.

Last year's global military expenditure was, on average, more than $4.8 billion (US$) every day. By way of contrast, an average of more than 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from mainly preventable causes - lack of access to adequate food, clean water and basic medicines. This is one of the prices paid, the collateral damage that is seldom talked about, for maintaining armed forces in a state of combat readiness around the world.

Government spending priorities, both global and national, are the focus of the first of two public forums marking the Global Day of Action on Military Spending in Aotearoa New Zealand - the first forum will be held in Wellington tonight, Monday 15 April, with speakers from UNICEF, Te Ohaakii a Hine / National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together, Caritas and Peace Movement Aotearoa covering spending on children's wellbeing, ending sexual violence, overseas development assistance, and military expenditure; from 5.30pm to 7pm, in the First floor conference room, St Andrew's on the Terrace, 30 The Terrace, Wellington.

The second forum will take place in Auckland on Tuesday, 16 April, and includes a screening of 'War Redefined' from the Women, War and Peace series, and a presentation on the costs of militarism in times of peace; from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, at The Peace Place, 22 Emily Place, Auckland City.

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