The 2016 Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) will take place over a fortnight, from 5-18 April.
Marking the beginning of GDAMS, on 5 April the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) will publish the global military expenditure figures for 2015, together with its analysis of the trends. 18 April will close the GDAMS with Tax Day in the USA, a traditional moment in the calendar for civil society to challenge the uses put to public money.
From its inception over 100 years ago, one of WILPF’s goals has been to challenge militarism and to advocate for total and universal disarmament.
4 April is the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and also of his remarkable speech “Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break Silence,” delivered in 1967, exactly one year before his death. In this speech, Dr. King powerfully described the inextricable links between militarism, racism, and poverty in the struggle for peace and justice.
Excessive military expenditure, the bombing and shelling of towns and cities, the global arms trade, and the possession of nuclear weapons by nine states are, undoubtedly, some of the primary impediments to peace, security, justice, and equality.
Excessive global military spending feeds into a vicious cycle of societal instability, creating an unsuitable environment to pursue gender equality or sustainable peace. Governments that spend excessive financial, technological, and human resources on their militaries divert resources from economic, social, and environmental programmes.
Given the conflicts that are currently taking place in the world, including in Syria, Yemen, and Ukraine, governments should be investing in peace rather than wasting money on overindulgent military spending.
WILPF published this 2014 report, You Get What You Pay For, addressing this issue.
Over the coming days, WILPF’s Disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will will publish a review on the SIPRI figures, so watch this space for that.
The International Peace Bureau (IPB) will publish events that groups around the world organise to mark this fortnight of action. To participate, post your activities on the map hosted by IPB and send them photos or links to your events so they can disseminate them. WILPF will be issuing materials highlighting the intersections of militarism, capitalism, racism, and patriarchy. We will also issue a preview of a new report related to preventing gender-based violence through the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and other instruments. Stopping arms transfers and preventing armed violence and armed conflict are critical to challenging excessive military spending and militarist cultures.
Coinciding with GDAMS, the third Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting of experts on lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) will take place from 11-15 April 2016 at the United Nations in Geneva.
LAWS, or killer robots, are a dangerous emerging technology. Acting on the basis of an ‘artificial intelligence’, these machines would be programmed to operate without meaningful human control. Such technology lacks every feature of human intelligence, moral reasoning, and ethical and legal judgment that makes humans subject and accountable to rules and norms. WILPF is a Steering Group member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. We are calling for a comprehensive, preemptive prohibition on the development, production, and use of LAWS.