International webinar marks Global Days of Action on Military Spending

I was very excited to be invited to speak at an international webinar ‘Move the Nuclear Weapons (and Fossil Fuel) Money‘ on 21 April. The webinar was organised by Abolition 2000, Basel Peace Office, Move the Nuclear Weapons Money, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, and the World Future Council. Conscience worked with many of the same organisations last October when we organised the London companion event to the international ‘Count the Nuclear Weapons Money’ action, outside the Ministry of Defence.

The webinar was held in conjunction with Earth Day 2020 and the Global Days of Action on Military Spending, 10 April – 5 May 2020. It had two sessions:

* Divestment and ethical / impact investment

* Legislative action and public promotion

You can find the full programme for the webinar here:

I was asked to speak on the following topic:

UK nuclear weapons budget and priorities for public health and human security

I spoke first about overall military spending in the UK. Even though the UK is a tiny country, in 2019 we had the sixth largest defence budget in the world: $54.8 billion (‘The Military Balance’, International Institute for Strategic Studies. 2020). I talked about why we need a change in the law to allow people to opt for the military part of their taxes to be diverted to peaceful purposes.

I then spoke about the submarines carrying UK nuclear weapons based at HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane in Scotland. The National Audit Office forecast that the UK would spend £5.2 billion on its nuclear weapons programme in 2018-2019. I talked about the inadequate resources allocated by the UK government to preparing for a pandemic, even though the risk of a pandemic had been identified as a Tier One risk in the National Security Risk Assessment in 2015.

A video of the entire webinar can be found below. It is three hours’ long. My presentation is between 2hrs 11 mins – 2hrs 16 mins.

https://www.facebook.com/Abolition2000/videos/155295132591139/

The last presenter was Quique Sánchez from Spain. He spoke about the Global Campaign on Military Spending, and showed some very sobering graphics, including the following:

Global Campaign On Military Spending: http://demilitarize.org/
Global Campaign On Military Spending UK: https://demilitarize.org.uk

You can see that the red sphere in the graphic, representing global military spending, is so big that only a small part of it can be seen in the top right hand corner. The resources given to the World Health Organisation, represented by a small blue sphere alongside, are tiny in comparison.

Nearly 300 people participated in the webinar via Zoom and others watched the video live on Facebook. It was a very moving experience. Attendees were from over 40 countries including Argentina, Bangladesh, Croatia, Ecuador, India, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Spain, Tunisia, UK, USA, and Zambia. When I sat down for the webinar at 16.00 in the UK, it was 4.00 for the very committed presenter in New Zealand! A huge thanks to the organisers for getting us all together.

Organisers

Abolition 2000 http://www.abolition2000.org/en/

Basel Peace Office http://www.baselpeaceoffice.org/

Move the Nuclear Weapons Money http://www.nuclearweaponsmoney.org/

Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament http://www.pnnd.org/

World Future Council https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/

Photo credits

‘Count the nuclear weapons money’ event: Fay Salichou

British soldier: Sgt Peter George. https://www.flickr.com/photos/defenceimages/39685983374

Outside HM Naval Base Clyde: Dagmar Heller

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