"Non-Violence", a sculpture by Karl Fredrik Reutersward, sits permanently outside UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo

World governments spent an estimated $1.6 trillion dollars in 2010 on military operations, weapons, research and military aid, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). “One year of military spending at current levels”, said Ray Acheson, Project Director of Reaching Critical Will, “is the equivalent of 700 years of the United Nations’ regular budget”. Or it could be invested to finance the new UN Women’s agency for 2,928 years. It is also enough to pay 24 years of the additional foreign aid needed to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.”

Every year, for example, the United States spends 60% of its budget –$698 billion — on military efforts, including the Department of Defense, War, Veterans Affairs, and Nuclear Weapons Programs. On the other hand, Costa Rica has no military budget, instead choosing to spend its money on security, education and culture. This small country has some enforcement and foreign peacekeeping forces but no permanent standing army. Costa Rica’s President Oscar Sanchez Arias said in 2008, “The perverse logic that leads a poor nation to spend excessive sums on its armies, and not on its people, is exactly the antithesis of human security, and a serious threat to international security.”


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