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Guns or Growth? - Governments are sacrificing development goals for arms exports

Source: Control Arms

Governments are breaking their promises to make sure that arms sales to poor countries are not harming the life of future generations by diverting resources and investments from areas like health and education. Military v Health & Education spending in selected poor countries 1998 - 2000

Countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East have bought more than half the world's heavy weapons and yet these same countries experience the greatest threat to human life from poverty and disease.

Many of these poor countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are struggling to protect their people from disease and chronic hunger or to provide even the most basic education. Yet in 2002 these countries bought more than two thirds of the value of world arms sales. Almost all of them (90%) were sold by UK, USA, France, Russia and China.

Meanwhile, across these regions:

  • more than a billion people struggled to survive on less than a dollar a day;
  • one child in five did not complete primary school;
  • more than 14 million children lost one or both parents to AIDS in 2001;
  • nearly 800 million people suffered from chronic hunger;
  • half a million women died in pregnancy or childbirth.

The "Guns and Growth" report demands that exporter and importer governments keep their promises and pay as much attention to the future development of poor nations and the human rights and security needs of their people, as they do to buying and selling arms.

Many exporter governments have promised to think carefully about the long-term impact of arms sales on poor countries, particularly on those who can't afford them or where they get into the hands of oppressive groups.

Yet in reality, these same governments do very little to keep their promises. Nearly 90% of the worlds top arms selling governments have no system in place to assess whether a particular arms sale is likely to increase poverty or undermine security despite signing up to agreements which place this obligation on them.

Ultimately, governments must sign up to an international Arms Trade Treaty to place real teeth behind seemingly empty promises that are all to easily broken or ignored. The report also sets out a new system to help governments properly assess the impact of any arms sale on poverty before the sale is agreed.

Spending on health, education and the military in developing countries

In certain developing countries, governments spend more on the military than on social development, communications infrastructure, and health combined. Even where such countries have been developing their own domestic arms industries, expenditure on arms imports is high.

Seven developing countries spend more on military than on health and education combined:
Oman, Syria, Burma, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Burundi.

Fourteen developing countries spend more on the military than on both health and education taken individually:
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Iran, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Nigeria, Rwanda, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone

Twelve developing countries spend more on the military than on either education or health:
Macedonia, Lao, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Armenia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Yemen, Cameroon, Nepal

Download the report as a PDF file

Control Arms is a campaign jointly run by Amnesty International, IANSA and Oxfam

... Payvand News - 6/22/04 ... --

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