Military Spending and Development

New York, 29 April 2002

Ways to reduce military expenditures such as the use of regional approaches, transparent Government reporting, or defence conversion were highlighted at a DDA-organized panel discussion entitled “Disarmament and Development: New Choices for Security and Prosperity”.

The resolution of border disputes in Latin America brought about changes in the regional security situation, according to Peruvian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Marco Balazero, creating an environment conducive to a reduction in military expenditures. Bilateral discussions on military openness were under way between Peru and Chile, as were regional efforts in the context of Mercosur and the Rio Group.

A common standardized methodology for the measurement of defence spending was the theme of the talk given by Reynaldo Bajraj, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. He outlined the development of a pioneering initiative based on transparency and accurate reporting between the governments of Argentina and Chile.

While cognizant of a State’s right to defend its people and borders, information on military expenditure is often necessary in order to assess a State’s economic and budgetary policies, said Nancy Happe of the International Monetary Fund. She stated that since the end of the cold war, global military expenditure fell from 3.7% to 2.5% of GDP but as of late is at a plateau and no further decreases have been reported.

According to Sean Di Giovanna of the Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research at Rutgers University, country case studies of Argentina, China, India, Israel, Republic of Korea, South Africa and Spain indicated that only governments had the power and capacity to make defence conversion a priority. He suggested that international aid agencies reward reductions in defence production capacity.