Image courtesy of SIPRI

TRANSPARENCY IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES

Governments around the world are spending a staggering amount of resources on their military. Global military expenditures have roughly doubled in the past decade to $1.6 trillion in 2010. That is more than ten times what is spent on official development assistance ($141 billion), and it dwarfs the regular budget of the United Nations ($2.7 billion). Less than 4 percent of annual military expenditures would be enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, lifting all people out of poverty.


TRANSPARENCY IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES

Since its inception, the United Nations has been concerned about this topic. But no agreement was reached on specific approaches to the reduction of military budgets. Yet Member States recognized the close relationship between building confidence among States and increased openness in matters of military expenditures by way of standardized reporting, agreeing on the need for greater transparency.

Tanks

TRANSPARENCY IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES

In 1980, the General Assembly established a reporting system, entitled the United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures. The Assembly recommended that all Member States report annually their military expenditures to the Secretary-General, in their national currency.


TRANSPARENCY IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES

Since 1981, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs has collected the information on military expenditures provided by Member States and published such data in an annual report of the Secretary-General. To date, 124 States have reported to the UN at least once. During the past decade, there has been a marked increase in reporting, with an average of 74 reports submitted annually. But it represents merely 38 percent of the UN membership, and only 65 countries provided their reports on military spending in 2011.


TRANSPARENCY IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES

Recently, a group of governmental experts established by the Secretary-General reviewed the UN reporting instrument. Last year, the General Assembly endorsed the group's report and its recommendations, including a simpler name of the instrument, "The United Nations Report on Military Expenditures", some improvements to the reporting forms, and the introduction of reporting no expenses (a "nil" return).

United Nations Report on Military Expenditures


TRANSPARENCY IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES

A country's excessive military spending may spark an unwanted chain reaction within its region and beyond. Greater openness in matters of military expenditures would not only help in building trust but also allow governments to focus instead on social, economic and human development. That is what the Global Day of Action on Military Spending is all about, and the UN is actively supporting it.

Global Day of Action on Military Spending