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Canada slips into deficit chasm- the cost of war- PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Friday, 11 September 2009 00:56

Canada slips into deficit chasm- the cost of war


by Joan Russow Global compliance Research project


In the June 21 2009 National Post article, entitled Tories won't tell future Afghan war costs, it was reported that Harpers’s government was invoking Article 15 of the Access to Information act to refuse to divulge the costs of war. There appears to be no cap on military expenses in Canada. At a recent meeting of the Conference of Defence Association, a message of unlimited funds was communicated.  The reluctance to divulge information, about the cost of war,  would , in itself, be justification for a vote of non-confidence.



In a June 3 letter to an NDP researcher, Julie Jansen, the director of the military's access branch, cited "the defence of Canada or any state allied" with it, in justifying the withholding of the figures for the three next fiscal years. (National Post, June 2009)

When the NDP requested the information on the cost of the war in Afghanistan, the information was denied and Article 15 was cited.

Article15 of the Access to Information Act reads as follows:

Section 15 of the act allows the withholding of any "information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada or the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities."



At a time, where the global community is facing the serious issues of climate change, of environmental devastation, poverty, rising unemployment economic collapse, the Canadian government should be instead, implementing the commitment made in 2002 to reallocate military expenses to   benefit the welfare of Canadians .


It used to be possible to roughly estimate the global military budget but if other states are following Canada’s procedure of refusing to release the cost of the war, it is no longer possible to estimate, “the waste and misuse” of resources on militarism. The cost of war has trumped fundamental rights -the right to affordable and safe housing; the right to unadulterated food (pesticide-free and genetically engineered-free food); the right to safe drinking water; the right to a safe environment; the right to universally accessible, not for profit health care; and the right to free and accessible education.


For years Canada has ignored the international call to reduce military expenses.


"The reduction of the military budget and disarmament are necessary conditions of security and development" (Anatole Rapapport, presentation at the World Order Conference, 2001)


Throughout the years, through international agreements, member states of the United Nations have recognized that the military budget has been a waste and misuse of resources. Unfortunately, institutional memory is either short or member states ignore precedents.


In 1976 at Habitat 1, member states of the United Nations affirmed the following in relation to the military budget:


"The waste and misuse of resources in war and armaments should be prevented. All countries should make a firm commitment to promote general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, in particular in the field of nuclear disarmament. Part of the resources thus released should be utilized so as to achieve a better quality of life for humanity and particularly the peoples of developing countries" (II, 12 Habitat 1).


In 1981, in the General Assembly resolution entitled Resolution on the reduction of the military budget, the member states

(i) reaffirmed "the urgent need to reduce the military budget, and agreed to freeze and reduce the military budget";

(ii) recognised that "the military budget constitutes a heavy burden for the economies of all nations, and has extremely harmful consequences on international peace and security";

(iii) reiterated the appeal "to all States, in particular the most heavily armed States, pending the conclusion of agreements on the reduction of military expenditures, to exercise self-restraint in their military expenditures with a view to reallocating the funds thus saved to economic and social development, particularly for the benefit of developing countries" (Resolution on the Reduction of Military budgets, 1981).


These appeals were further reinforced in a 1983 General Assembly Resolution on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development, that curbing the arms build-up would make it possible to release additional resources for use in economic and social development, particularly for the benefit of the developing countries." Also in the 1993 resolution, member states considered that "the magnitude of military expenditures is now such that their various implications can no longer be ignored in the efforts pursued in the international community to secure the recovery of the world economy and the establishment of a new international economic order."


Also in 1992, all member states recognized that "Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development" ( Rio Declarations. Principle 24, UNCED, 1992), and in Chapter 33, of Agenda 21, member states of the Untied Nations made a commitment to the "the reallocation of resources presently committed to military purposes" (33.18e)


In 1994, in adopting the statement from the International Conference on Population and Development, the member states of the United Nations concurred that the attainment of “quantitative and qualitative goals of the present Programme of Action clearly require additional resources, some of which could become available from a reordering of priorities at the individual, national and international levels. However, none of the actions required—nor all of them combined— is expensive in the context of either current global development or military expenditures." (Article 1.19)


In 1995, similarly, states in adopting the statement from the Social Development Summit endorsed the calling for “the reallocation of military spending to ensure a greater pocket of resources to expand public services. Again, in 1995, member states of the United Nations reconfirmed these commitments by adopting the Platform of Action at the UN conference on Women, Equality, Development and Peace. In the Platform of Action, States have made a commitment to maintain “peace and security at the global, regional and local levels, together with the prevention of policies of aggression ... and the resolution of armed conflict” (Art. 14) and to reduce "...military expenditures" (Art. 15), states have also made a commitment to the “prevention and resolution of conflicts” (Art.15) and to “increase and hasten, ... the conversion of military resources and related industries to development and peaceful purposes" (145a).


In the  Habitat II Agenda, what was originally proposed as Article 140 m: "use a reduction of national military budgets to fund local programs for human settlements" was left out in the final Habitat II Agenda in the sections related to Domestic financial resources and economic instruments.


In the 1984 General Assembly Resolution entitled the Right of Peoples to Peace, there were "Appeals to all States and international organizations to do their utmost to assist in implementing the right of peoples to peace through the adoption of ...measures at both the national and the international level." (4. Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace approved by General Assembly resolution 39/11 of 12 November 1984)


It is time for the member states of the United Nations to give substance to the Habitat II Agenda, by recapturing the commitment from Habitat 1, in 1976, to substantially reduce the military budget.







Last Updated on Monday, 27 July 2015 11:32

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