Armed Robbery? A look at Oxfam’s policy paper on the Arms Trade

oxfam_logo_big.jpg (Photo credit: net_efekt)

Oxfam’s latest policy report, Armed Robbery: How the poorly regulated arms trade is paralysing development touches a core issue which is stalling development and perpetuating untold misery and suffering for large numbers of people. I quote:

The irresponsible, excessive proliferation of arms and ammunition fuels and exacerbates conflict and armed violence….and weakens the ability and willingness of governments to create enabling environments. Development gains are reversed as communities are paralysed; closing schools, placing immense strain on health systems, discouraging investment and undermining security. (p2)

Here are some alarming facts from the report:

  • Global military spending in 2010 totalled $1.6 trillion
  • Sales to fragile and conflicted states totalled 7% of all arms sales in 2010
  • Military sales to fragile and conflict-affected countries grew by 15% between 2009 and 2010
  • 1.5 billion people live in these fragile zones
  • No lower income fragile country has achieved even one Millennium Development Goal (MDG)
  • Armed violence has shrunk national economies in Africa by 15%
  • All lower and middle income countries who allocated more than 10% of government expenditure for military expenses scored low on corruption indices (such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index)
  • In 2008 in South Africa, for every  R1 spent by the government on helping people living with Aids R7.63 was being spent on financing the inflating arms deal with European defence companies.
In short the arms trade is further destabilising fragile regions and preventing people in these regions from hoping for more stable and consistent development. Oxfam wants to see the issue of development embedded in the Arms Trade Treaty:
Firmly embedding development criteria for arms transfers in the ATT would ensure that arms would not be transferred to places such as Myanmar, where, in 2006 the value of the arms imports was equivalent to a staggering 72% of all the ODA (Overseas Development Aid) received by the country.
The report goes on to discuss regional development initiatives to safeguard development and strengthening national capacity to remain “treaty compliant” before culminating in a call to action for treaty negotiators to embed development criteria in the Arms Trade Treaty in order to ensure better regulation with the hope that a scaling down of armed violence will both create more favourable conditions for development and release government funds for public services infrastructure.
You can read the full report here.

He will judge between the nations

and will settle disputes for many peoples.

They will beat their swords into ploughshares

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation will not take up sword against nation,

nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2-4)


Armed Robbery Oxfam Report

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