FEATURE | 27 Apr 2021

Urgent time to invest in peace, not war

Placeholder @SIPRI World military spending, by region, 1988–2020. Data and graphic: SIPRI

Berghof calls for a reduction of military expenditures as the 2020 spending on arms increased despite cuts in aid budgets.


Global military expenditure has increased by 2.6 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year now totaling nearly US$ 2 trillion, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) latest study published yesterday shows.

Amid the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments continue to spend disproportionate resources on creating and containing violence compared to what they spend on building peace. At the same time, several countries made far-reaching cuts to their aid budgets pushing millions into poverty. The British government, for example, increased its military spending by 2.9 per cent while cutting the country’s annual foreign aid commitment from 0.7 to 0.5 per cent of gross national income.

“What a terrible indictment of today’s leaders. When vast resources are needed for climate change and COVID relief, spending ever more gargantuan sums on the military is ruinous in every sense. Especially when such tiny sums are spent on building peace,” said Andrew Gilmour, Executive Director of the Berghof Foundation in response to the findings of the SIPRI study.

Greater investment in peacebuilding, mediating conflicts and creating space for dialogue are however fundamental to increasing stability and security across the world. People need to be able to live in peaceful societies for the world to have a chance to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

This should to be reflected in government spending: It is high time for governments around the world to push for multilateral disarmament, de-prioritise military spending, and instead invest in the peaceful mediation of conflicts and their sustainable resolution.

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