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.
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.
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)