Campaigners in London marked the third annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) today (15 April) with a protest outside the Houses of Parliament against continuing high levels of military spending while cuts are implemented in health, education, welfare and other areas.
Protesters, from Campaign Against Arms Trade, CND, Disarm DSEI, Pax Christi and other organisations participated in the demonstration. A street theatre action “Play the budget right” saw a games show host introduce contestants seeking medical treatment and a university education instead win military equipment, symbolising the transfer of public resources into military spending, while an engineer who wants to use her skills to develop renewable energy is forced into working in arms production.
Over the day, protests and other actions took place in towns and cities across the world. In the UK they included actions in Coventry, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Oswestry and Wrexham. The best attended protest was an all-day blockade of Faslane nuclear naval base, near Glasgow, the home base for Trident submarines.
Throughout the day supporters mass tweeted the Treasury with their preferred spending priorities - @hmtreasury with #demilitarize.
Two important reports on military spending were issued to mark the day. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released data relating to military spending in 2012 which showed a small fall of 0.5% overall. However, the fall was mainly in western countries while spending had increased in other regions. China and Russia, the world's second and third largest military powers, increased military spending.
A report by the Transnational Institute and the Dutch Campaign Against Arms Trade looked at the disastrous effects of high military spending in the eurozone crisis. Guns, Debt and Corruption: Military spending and the EU crisis analysed the high levels of military spending in some of the most indebted countries, including Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, even as other government spending, wages and pensions were slashed.
Kaye Stearman of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) commented:
Despite the world financial crisis, it seems that military spending has only been marginally affected. When it comes to cutting spending, politicians prefer to cut health, education and social services, rather than military equipment. If governments were prepared to divert military spending into development of renewable energy we would have a world that is both cleaner and safer for everyone.
For further information and photos please contact CAAT's Outreach Co-ordinator Anne-Marie O'Reilly on 0207 281 0287 or email Outreach or CAAT's Media Co-ordinator, Kaye Stearman on 020 7281 0297 or mobile 07990 673 232 or email Press.
- The Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is an international peace initiative. Jointly founded by the International Peace Bureau, based in Zurich, and the Institute of Policy Studies, in Washington, it has since grown to involve organisations and individuals in many countries. The first GDAMS was held on 12 April 2011.
- Information on GDAMS in the UK, including the organisations involved, can be found here.
- UK military expenditure stands at £39 billion a year. The UK government subsidises arms exports by £700 million annually.
- Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in the UK works to end the international arms trade. The arms business has a devastating impact on human rights and society and damages economic development. Large-scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems Around 75% of CAAT's income is raised from individual supporters.