United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Expresses Support for Global Day of Action on Military Spending

17 April 2012

United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Expresses Support for Global Day of Action on Military Spending

17 April 2012
Press Release
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Expresses Support


for Global Day of Action on Military Spending


NEW YORK, 17 April (Office for Disarmament Affairs) — The Global Day of Action on Military Spending was launched by an international network led by the International Peace Bureau on 12 April 2011 to highlight the large global military spending.  The United Nations, since its inception, has been concerned about the question, and to mark the occasion of the Global Day this year, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, issued a statement expressing her support and that of the United Nations for the observance.

The Organization, she said, should encourage political leaders to reassess their country’s defence needs, explore confidence-building measures, and consider shifting priorities and resources for social, economic and human development.

Quoting the Secretary-General, she said:  “The world is over-armed and peace is underfunded”.  According to the data provided by 66 Member States to the United Nations last year, their military spending, in total, amounted to $1.22 trillion dollars in 2010.  Referring to the World Bank’s estimate, she stressed that less than 5 per cent of that sum would be enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, lifting all people out of poverty.

Furthermore, the High Representative warned that greater military spending often results in an increased sense of insecurity in other countries and creates a vicious cycle, undermining regional and international security. In this context, she stressed that transparency in military expenditure is particularly important in building confidence between States.  Reiterating the General Assembly’s call for greater openness in that regard, she urged all Member States to report their military expenditures annually to the Secretary-General by way of a standardized reporting system, namely the United Nations Report on Military Expenditures.

Until 1980, there was no agreement on specific approaches to the reduction of military budgets, although Member States had recognized the close relationship between confidence-building among States and increased openness in matters of military expenditures, agreeing on the need for greater transparency.

Then, in 1980, the General Assembly adopted resolution 35/142 B, establishing the United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures.  In this resolution, the Assembly recommended that all Member States should report annually to the Secretary-General their military expenditures for the latest fiscal year for which data is available, presenting their first report not later than 30 April 1981.

Since 1981, the United Nations Secretariat 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, 126 States have reported their military expenditures to the United Nations at least once.  During the past decade, there has been a marked increase in reporting, with an average of 74 reports submitted annually.  But that represents merely 38 per cent of the Organization’s membership, and in 2011 only 66 countries provided their reports on military spending.  Recently, a group of governmental experts established by the Secretary-General reviewed the reporting instrument.  Last year, the General Assembly endorsed the group’s report and its recommendations (document A/66/89), 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).

For further information, please contact Tom Kono, e-mail: konot@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.