Campaign of the Month: Global Day of Action on Military Spending: April 2011

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In 2009, global military spending surged to an all-time high of US $1.53 trillion. Given the numerous crises facing the planet -- economic, environmental, health, diplomatic – it is vital to create a global movement to shift this money to human needs. Thousands of organizations, and millions of individuals, support this point of view. Moreover, because of the global economic crisis, some governments are even beginning to cut military spending. But they won’t maintain these cuts, or transfer the money saved to social purposes, unless we pressure them to do so. We need to begin a serious mobilizing effort on a global scale to make visible our demands to feed people, not the military-industrial complex!

As part of this ongoing campaign, the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) are jointly organising a Global Day of Action on Military Spending on 12th April 2011 to coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's new figures on military expenditures. On this day, people all over the world will join together in actions to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities. Such events will help us to build the international network around this issue.

While each location will craft its own approach, we hope there will be a common focus on calling attention to the overall size of global military spending. This would need in most cases to be linked to a related national (or local) issue, such as the Afghanistan war/arms trade deals/work against small arms/resources for nonviolent conflict resolution/Article 9 campaign/opposition to military bases, etc. We very much hope that peace groups will use this as an opportunity to connect up with anti-poverty, environmental, pro-democracy organisations and others who share our perspective.

While this is the first-ever coordinated action on this theme, we doubt it will be the last! Shifting financial and political priorities on this scale is a mighty task, and will require a very wide international movement to tackle it. And since the key decisions are taken at national level (by governments, parliaments, military experts, civil servants etc) we need to concentrate on building national-level coalitions. Fortunately the initial feedback to our ‘invitation to endorse’ have been very enthusiastic.

As for types of actions: a whole range is possible -- from street theatre/demonstrations and erecting banners to seminars, signature collection and much more. Many slogans come to mind: What Would You Do With $1.5 Trillion? $1.5 Trillion Is Insane! Trillions for War or Trillions for Peace? etc. Many materials are already available on our website (http://www.demilitarize.org) and we plan to issue a full-scale Toolkit before long to assist organisers. A key aspect is the visual side. By generating some captivating images, we plan to attract widespread media coverage and make available photos of our rallies and events. We will compile an album of pictures from around the world and post them online to document the global movement and to use to accompany news stories about the SIPRI report and our own actions.

The International Peace Bureau (IPB) is dedicated to the vision of a World Without War. We are a Nobel Peace Laureate (1910); over the years, 13 of our officers have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Our 320 member organisations in 70 countries, together with individual members from a global network, bring together expertise and campaigning experience in a common cause. Our current main programme, which centres on Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development, was launched in 2005. It focuses on three aspects: 1) military spending, 2) the impact of weapons on development, and 3) militarism and its driving forces. Since 2005 IPB has published three books, distributed some 20 newsletters per year, and organized conferences in Europe, N. America and beyond – all with the purpose of building up an activist community around these themes.

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) is a community of public scholars and organisers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. We work with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power. As Washington’s first progressive multi-issue think tank, the IPS has served as a policy and research resource for visionary social justice movements for over four decades. As soon as IPS opened its doors in 1963, it plunged into the anti-Vietnam War movement. In the 1980s, IPS became heavily involved in supporting the movement against U.S. intervention in Central America. In 2003, IPS convened the meeting that led to the formation of the country’s largest coalition against the Iraq War, United for Peace and Justice.

You will see below a list of organisations who have already committed to preparing some kind of action on April 12. What we now need is to extend this list much further, in order to inspire us all to reach wider and think bolder in our planning. We are determined to show that this issue is indeed a worldwide one, requiring creativity and commitment. Please get in touch !

Participating Organisations: (Initial listing)

International

  • Global Action to Prevent War
  • Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
  • International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility
  • International Peace Bureau
  • Pax Christi International
  • Peace Boat/Global Artice 9 Campaign
  • Religions for Peace
  • War Resisters' International

Greece
European Bureau for Conscientious Objection

India
All India Peace & Solidarity Organisation, Maharashtra State Committee, Nagpur

Ireland
Peace and Neutrality Alliance PANA

Philippines
Stop the War Coalition

South Korea
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
Peace Network

Spain
Fundacio per la Pau

USA

Bay Area:
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Code Pink

Boston:
Resist Africom

Honolulu:
American Friends Service Committee

Maine:
Bring Our War $$ Home campaign

New York
Arms and Security Initiative, New America Foundation

Washington DC:
Institute for Policy Studies

Western Mass.:
National Priorities Project

Contacts:

Programmes & Projects
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