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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 66, September 2002

News Review

SIPRI Yearbook Marks Rising Tide of Military Spending

On June 13, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released details of its authoritative Yearbook detailing global military spending and international security developments. A summary of the study's main findings depressingly encapsulates the scale, and rising curve, of post-Cold War military expenditure, running in 2001 "at $839 billion", a figure "accounting for 2.6% of world gross domestic product (GDP) and a world average of $137 per capita." As the summary notes: "This estimate is based on adopted defence budgets and is likely to be revised upwards when supplementary expenditures resulting from the September 11 attacks on the USA and the ensuing war on terrorism have been taken fully into account."

In more detail, SIPRI notes that five countries - the US, Russia, France, Japan and UK - account for over 50% of total world expenditure, with Washington alone claiming 36%. Predictably, the "high-income countries - the industrialised countries and those in the Middle East - have the highest per capita spending", while the "developing countries - particularly those in Africa and the Middle East - have the heaviest economic burden in terms of its share of GDP."

In terms of broader trends, the report concludes: "After the decline from 1987 to 1998, military expenditure began to rise again, both globally and in most regions of the world. Over the 3-year period 1998-2001, it increased by around 7% in real terms. The increase of 2% in 2001 is smaller than the increases in 1999 and 2000, but world military expenditure is likely to rise much faster in the coming years, owing primarily to a substantial increase in military spending. The increase in military spending since 1998 is primarily the result of the change in trend in the Middle East, CEE [central and eastern Europe], N. America and East Asia. The most marked change in trend has taken place in Russia, where the rapid reduction of military spending changed into growth in 1999 and stabilized in 2001 at a level comparable to that of some major West European countries. In Western Europe, military expenditure has increased only slightly."

Note: the United Nations Disarmament Yearbook 2001 was released on June 30. In his Foreword, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala noted gravely: "The pursuit of security through the endless perfection and accumulation of arms is clearly counterproductive - and in the early part of the new century, the world must achieve what Article 26 of the Charter describes as 'the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and security resources'."

Reports: SIPRI Year book 2002 - armaments, disarmament and international security, Oxford University Press, 2002, released June 13; SIPRI Yearbook 2002 - armaments, disarmament and international security, SIPRI Press Release (http://www.sipri.org), June 13; Highlights from SIPRI Yearbook 2002, SIPRI website; US increasing its military dominance, reports show, OneWorld US, June 21; 2001 United Nations Disarmament Yearbook released, UN Press Release DC/2835, July 31.

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© 2002 The Acronym Institute.