Botswana’s runaway military spending is being cited as one of the reasons behind a campaign by Oxfam for an Arms Trade Treaty.
Global military spending is set to break the previous Cold War record by the end of 2006, warns international aid agency Oxfam, as government representatives address the UN General Assembly in New York.
Oxfam is calling on governments to ban arms sales that fuel poverty, conflict, and human rights abuses, by supporting an Arms Trade Treaty. A landmark vote to start work on such a Treaty will take place next month in the General Assembly.
As military spending has increased, conflict has become the top cause of world hunger. Africa is particularly affected: 61 percent of African countries affected by food crises are in the grip of civil wars. In Afghanistan, 2.5 million people currently do not have enough food to eat and conflict is hampering relief efforts. During the past few months in Gaza, the ongoing conflict has left hundreds of UN food containers stranded at border posts, leaving Palestinians short of essential supplies, such as bread.
The USA and countries in the Middle East are responsible for the bulk of the growth in military spending, but some of the world’s poorest countries have also increased spending. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Botswana, and Uganda all doubled their military spending between 1985 and 2000. Between 2002 and 2003, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan spent more on their military than on health care.
“Year on year arms spending escalates and year on year conflicts are causing more hunger and suffering. Arms sales do not start conflicts, but they certainly fuel and lengthen them. It is time the world stemmed the uncontrolled flood of weapons into the world’s war zones. The world must agree to start work on an Arms Trade Treaty this October,”said Bernice Romero, Oxfam International’s Campaigns Director.