Global military expenditure figures for 2011 released as Global Day of Action on Military Spending gets underway

April 16, 2012 at 3:36pm

Global military expenditure figures for 2011 released as Global Day of Action on Military Spending gets underway


Peace Movement Aotearoa

17 April 2012


The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has just released information about the level of global military expenditure in 2011. Below is part of the SIPRI overview paper; links to where you can get more information; a reminder of events in Wellington and Auckland today to mark the Global Day of Military Expenditure; and background information on the Global Day of Action, including the list of supporting organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand.



Last year global military expenditure was $1.738 trillion (US$) - on average, more than $4,761,000,000 (US$) every day. By way of contrast, an average of more than 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from mainly preventable causes - lack of access to adequate food, clean water and basic medicines. This is one of the prices paid, the collateral damage that is seldom talked about, for maintaining armed forces in a state of combat readiness around the world.<p> </p><p> </p>

1) World military expenditure stops growing in 2011<p> </p><p> </p>World military spending in 2011 is estimated to have been $1,738 billion. While the figure is higher in dollar terms than in 2010, this is largely the result of changes in prices and, more importantly, a falling dollar. When measured in real terms (constant 2010 prices), the total for 2011 is just 0.3 per cent higher than in 2010. Given the uncertainties in the data, this means that world military spending was essentially unchanged in 2011, breaking a 13-year run of continuous military spending increases.



The levelling-out of military spending results from a very mixed pattern of changes in different countries and regions. (See figure 4, tables 2 and 3). This included:


  •  A decrease in the US of 1.2 per cent in real terms, the first fall in US military spending since 1998;
  • A moderate increase in Asia and Oceania (2.3 per cent);
  • Falls in Western and Central Europe (1.9 per cent) due to austerity measures, matched by a large increase (10.2 per cent) in Eastern Europe;
  • A substantial increase (4.6 per cent) in the Middle East;
  • A moderate (3.3 per cent) decrease in Latin America; and
  • A large increase (8.6 per cent) in Africa.



It is too early to say whether the flattening of military spending represents a long-term change of trend. On the one hand, US spending is likely to fall due to the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and the draw-down in Afghanistan, while austerity measures in Europe are likely to mean continuing falls there in the next 2 to 3 years. On the other hand, spending in Asia, Africa and the Middle East continues to increase. Meanwhile, any major new Middle East conflict could change the picture dramatically, both for countries in the region and for the US. But barring such an event, it seems likely that the rapid increases of the last decade are over for now. (Extract from 'Background paper on military expenditure data for 2011' - the full paper is available at )



2) Where you can get more information<p> </p><p> </p>As well as the SIPRI overview at the SIPRI media release is available at More information is currently being uploaded to the SIPRI site at



3) Global Day of Action on Military Spending events in Wellington and Auckland<p> </p><p> </p>* Wellington, Tuesday, 17 April - Leafletting for the Global Day of Action, join us from 12.30pm to 1.30pm at Midland Park (corner Johnston Street and Lambton Quay). If you can help, or for more information, please contact Peace Movement Aotearoa, RSVP on Facebook at



* Wellington, Tuesday, 17 April - Public forum on government spending priorities, join us for a discussion on: * Children's health and wellbeing, speaker Dr Anne Else, Child Poverty Action Group * Overseas development assistance, speaker Tara D'Sousa, International Programmes Manager, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand * Military expenditure, speaker Edwina Hughes, Peace Movement Aotearoa. From 5.30pm to 7pm, light refreshments at 5.15pm, First floor conference room, St Andrew's on the Terrace, 30 The Terrace (entry via the pathway on the north side of the church). For more information, contact Peace Movement Aotearoa, RSVP on Facebook at An A4 poster for this event is attached and available online at



* Auckland, Tuesday, 17 April - Leafletting for the Global Day of Action, join us from 4.30pm to 5.30pm at Britomart (on the western, Downtown side near the Quay Street corner). Organised by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Pax Christi, if you can help, or for more information, please email RSVP on Facebook at



4) Background information


The Global Day of Action was started by the International Peace Bureau, based in Geneva, and the Institute for Policy Studies, based in Washington DC, in 2011. The April date is chosen to coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's latest figures on world military expenditures.

Peace Movement Aotearoa has been the national contact in Aotearoa New Zealand for the Global Day of Action since its inception and is part of the Global Day of Action International Steering Committee.

Supporting organisations for the 2012 Global Day of Action are: Amnesty International, Tauranga Moana; Anglican Pacifist Fellowship; Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand; Peace Movement Aotearoa; Social Justice Council, Anglican Diocese of Auckland; United Nations Association Aotearoa New Zealand, Northern Region Branch; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Aotearoa; the Yearly Meeting of Aotearoa New Zealand Religious Society of Friends, Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri (Quakers); and the YWCA of Greater Wellington.