The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) supports today a joint international statement organised by the International Peace Bureau (IPB) that calls for future spending to be prioritised on healthcare rather than military projects. (1) It comes as a new ICAN report highlights the huge levels of expenditure in 2019 on nuclear weapons. (2) It also follows on from similar calls for a ‘green’ stimulus by a wide range of groups.
The IPB statement calls for a dramatic reduction of military spending in favour of healthcare and meeting social needs. It notes:
“We are now seeing the consequences of underinvesting in healthcare infrastructure, hospitals, and staff. Hospitals are overburdened, nurses are exhausted, materials are scarce, and life and death decisions are made on who can and cannot have access to the scarce number of ventilators available. Doctors and nurses are handicapped by the irresponsibility of past political and economic decision making. All over the world, health systems are reaching the limits of their strength and heroic front-line staff are under massive pressure.
“The coronavirus emergency shows what a weakened state our societies find themselves in to protect the people: a world driven by stock markets, shareholder value and austerity have weakened our ability to defend the common good and placed human life in danger on a global scale.”
The statement calls for a new global social contract given that the UN body, the International Labour Organisation, notes that the Covid-19 contract could see as many as 25 million jobs lost, real increases in urban poverty and significant income losses for workers.
NFLA also welcomes a new ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) report on Global Military Spending in 2019. This notes that $72.9 billion (£59.8 billion) was spent by nine countries on nuclear weapons in 2019. The report calculates that this amounts to $138,699 spent in the world on nuclear weapons per minute. Global nuclear spending rose $7.1 billion from 2018, in line with total military spending, which also rose dramatically from 2018 to 2019.
Furthermore, NFLA welcomes that Quaker, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist organisations across the UK and further afield have come together to press governments to pursue green recovery plans as they seek to revitalise pandemic-stricken economies. (3)
More than 40 faith groups across 14 countries have today jointly announced their divestment from fossil fuels and called on decision-makers to ensure that bailouts and recovery packages handed out in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic do not empower polluters.
All of these calls to deliver green and healthcare recovery plans, and to reduce military expenditure on nuclear weapons, are part of a chorus of similar pleas being made by a wide range of groups that argue such stimulus packages should be used to bolster global climate action and protect our economies going forward.
A number of these matters are noted in the latest report of the UK and Ireland Mayors for Peace progress report which the NFLA supports. (4)
NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I am delighted the NFLA can support the IPB’s call for economic resources to be diverted away from military spending towards healthcare and low carbon activity. This unprecedented global lockdown due to the Covid-19 infection has created not just a health crisis, but an economic emergency. The only way to assist the most vulnerable groups in society, and all of us in general, is to ensure that governments provide ongoing support that assists healthcare and the ongoing climate crisis. That could also allow a rethink in security policy away from a nuclear weapons programme which makes no one truly safe. There is a real need for future multilateral, community solidarity rather than unilateral action as a response to this crisis. That also means a move towards multilateral nuclear disarmament as well.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes to Editors:
(1) IPB statement, http://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/IPB-Statement-23.03.pdf converted into a petition drive organised by Beyond Nuclear International – https://www.change.org/p/general-assembly-of-the-united-nations-invest-in-healthcare-instead-of-militarization
(2) ICAN report on Global Spending on Nuclear Weapons 2019, 14th May 2020
(3) Business Green, 18th May 2020
(4) UK & Ireland Mayors for Peace Chapter Policy Briefing on Covid-19 and progress with Mayors for Peace activity, 15th May 2020