Militarism & Conflicts
In 2007, the world spent approximately $1.1 trillion on military expenditure - for making weapons and training people to kill, rather than for creating a better and sustainable world for all. An enormous amount of skills, resources, and energies go towards developing better killing machines and weapons and supporting the military-industrial complex, instead of going towards the betterment of society and the planet.
The US spends over half of this $1.1 trillion dollars on defense (approx. $623 billion). And the US is going to spend an additional $200 billion or so for the war in Iraq. Imagine how much better the world would be, had that same $200 billion been used for social and humanitarian activities (like poverty reduction, food, housing, education and sanitation) in Iraq and the Middle East.
As of December 2007, at least 18 significant ongoing armed conflicts were raging around the world (the UN defines "major wars" as conflicts that induce 1,000 or more deaths). Armed conflict costs more than human lives. The 1999 Report of the UN Secretary-General says that the economic costs of seven major wars (not including Kosovo) in the 1990s to the international community is at least $199 billion. This does not even include the economic costs of war to the countries in conflict.
Other important areas affected by armed conflict are:Social Casualties
- As of October 2006, forty countries (out of 195) face food shortages. One of the predominant causes of food shortages is civil strife.
- Hunger As A Weapon - Food stocks, means of food production, or food producers themselves are seized or destroyed. Food relief is diverted from intended beneficiaries to the military and their supporters.
- Hunger As Collateral Damage - Conflict creates poverty, which results in hunger. Markets and livelihoods are disrupted, leaving households without sufficient resources to get food.
- Children As Victims - Recently, the proportion of war victims who are civilians has jumped from 5 per cent to over 90 per cent. At least half of these war victims are children. During 1986-96, around 2 million children were killed in armed conflict. Three times as many were seriously injured or permanently disabled. Assault rifles are cheap and widely available, thanks to the international arms trade. In Uganda, an AK-47 can be purchased for the cost of a chicken. In some countries, government or rebel armies have recruited (often forcibly) tens of thousands of children to use these lightweight weapons. Most are adolescent boys, but some recruits are 10 years or younger.
- Physical Security - The 2006 UNHCR Statistical Yearbook estimates that there are 9.9 million refugees, 744,000 asylum-seekers and 12.8 million internationally displaced persons protected/assisted by UNHCR.
- World military expenditure estimated to be 1.2 trillion dollars in the year 2006.
- The US will spend $598 billion on military, but only $58.6 billion on education and $52.3 billion on health.
- The US will spend 48.6% of the world’s total military expenditures. This is almost as much as the rest of the world.
- There are still around 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world. A few hundred could destroy most of the world.
UNICEF Report -
Impact of Armed Conflict on Children
World Hunger Education Service -
Armed Conflict and Hunger--How Conflict Causes Hunger
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)-
FAO/GIEWS Foodcrops and Shortages No. 2/2004
Boston University School of Public Health -
Depleted Uranium: Questions and Answers on Its Use in War