The devastating economic impact of the COVID pandemic has left many governments struggling to fund critical social programmes such as healthcare, education, housing, etc. However, the financial crunch has had little or no effect on global military spending. According to a report released on 26 April 2021 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the global military expenditure rose to nearly $2 trillion in 2020, an increase of 2.6 percent from 2019.

Ironically, the five largest spenders in military weapons, the US, China, Russia, the UK, and India, are members of the UN Security Council. While the first four countries are among the Permanent Members of the Council, India is currently serving as a non-permanent member. The Director, Arms and Security Programs at the Center for International Policy, William D. Hartung, poignantly points out that, “at a time when a global pandemic, climate change, and racial and economic injustice pose the greatest risks to human lives and livelihood, the increase in global military expenditure in 2020 marks a dismal failure by policymakers across the world to address the most urgent challenges we face.”

Courtesy: SIPRI

Conspicuously stationed close to the visitors’ entrance into the United Nations Headquarters in New York is the iconic “Knotted Gun.”  The “knotted gun,” which symbolizes non-violence, was sculpted by Carl Fredrik Reutersward shortly following the assassination of the famous musician John Lennox in 1980 and donated to the UN by the mission of Luxembourg in 1988.  

There are two kinds of virus currently ravaging the world; the COVID-19 and violence. Regrettably, as many families struggle each day to get by due to the economic impact of the pandemic, governments continue to spend recklessly on weapons of death. The former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, said over a decade ago that “the world is over-armed, and peace is underfunded.” This saying continues to ring true. The post-COVID era is the time for governments to knot the guns and redirect all resources to improve their citizens’ wellbeing.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:

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