“The World is over-armed and Peace is under-funded”.
With these words from Ban Ki-moon the International Peace Bureau (IPB) is organising a World congress for Disarmament at the Technical University in Berlin from the 30th of September to the 2nd of October. On the 27th of May the first press conference took place and Pressenza, official media partner for the event, was there.
1.8 Trillion US$ was spent globally on the military in 2014, and the trend is upwards. NATO has committed its member states to stop cuts and to increase military expenditure to 2% of GDP. For Germany this means 56 Billion Euros.
On the list of the states with the biggest military expenditure, Saudi Arabia now figures in third place, with great help from German weapon-producing companies. Others countries high up the table, like China, are increasing their production for domestic purposes. Countries such as Ethiopia and Eritrea, who would be better off using their budget to fighting poverty, are also engaging strongly in militarisation.
While conflicts proliferate, the number of refugees multiply and the “gap between the Haves and Have-nots” widens, as Ingeborg Breines from Norway, Co-president of IPB, said. The consensus of the organisers of the congress is that there can be no military solution to ongoing wars. Only through negotiation and in a climate of peace and disarmament will conflicts be solved. Therefore militarisation is counter-productive and will only lead to more conflicts, instead of solving the ones existing.
The planned Congress starts with strong international support: organised by the IPB and SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), Christian and Buddhist organisations (Pax Christi und Church and Peace), international sustainability organisations like Friends of the Earth, WILPF (Women’s international League for Peace & Freedom) and – as Reiner Braun, also Co-president of IPB, emphasized as something exceptional – the global trade unions UNI and ITUC. Te UN will also be present with Michael Møller, General-Director of the UN office in Geneva. Many other prominent speakers can be found here in the first draft of the programme.
In the first part of the Congress the current world situation regarding conflicts, the arms trade, refugees and unfair distribution will be analysed. “We do not have a sustainable world situation.” Breines summarised. In the second part, concrete solutions and alternatives will be studied which will result in an Action Agenda. The stated goal of the organisers is to reach not only the peace-loving public but also to give political decision makers, industrialists and other sections of the public ready arguments for developing pragmatic proposals. Distinguished scientists and economists have also been invited to speak.
In order to break the resistance to disarm presented by the powerful arms industry, the issue of industrial conversion will be important. The transition of arms production to things that serve sustainability, like renewable energy, electro mobility, etc., is essential for states like the USA and France which strongly rely on the military industry.