Move the Nuclear Weapons Money, a global campaign to cut the nuclear weapons budget and reinvest this money in economic and environmental needs, has called for re-allocation of a portion of nuclear weapons budgets to assist the UN cash crisis.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week warned member states and UN staff that the United Nations is $140 million short of its budget and could run out of cash, due to late and non-payment of UN dues by member states.
In a letter sent to UN members, Guterres said that the UN had “never faced such a difficult cash flow situation this early in the calendar year. An organization such as ours should not have to suffer repeated brushes with bankruptcy. But surely, the greater pain is felt by those we serve when we cannot, for want of modest funds, answer their call for help.”
The 2018 UN budget of $5.4 billion is already $285 million less than the UN’s 2017 budget, and in comparison is less than the annual budget of the New York police force ($5.58 billion).
‘This is an absurdly low budget for an organisation with global programs and responsibilities for peace, security, health, sustainable development, disaster prevention and relief, human rights, law and the environment,’ says Thies Kätow, policy research officer for the World Future Council, a co-sponsor of Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign. ‘Meanwhile, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are spending nearly 20 times this amount on nuclear weapons alone.’
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the cost to extend the lifetime of each US Trident nuclear missile is $140 million, the same amount as the UN shortfall.
‘If the US retires just one Trident nuclear missile from their arsenal, the money saved could be used to wipe out the current UN deficit,’ says Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and Co-founder of Move the Nuclear Weapons Money. ‘Better yet, if all the nuclear armed States abandoned their plans to upgrade current nuclear weapons and build new weapons and delivery systems, nearly $100 billion could be saved. This could then re-directed into the economy for job creation, climate protection, education, health, peace, diplomacy and sustainable security.’
PNND Co-President Senator Ed Markey has introduced the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act into the U.S. Senate to cut redundant and destabilizing nuclear programs and curtail nuclear modernization. ‘It is time we inserted some desperately-needed sanity into America’s budget priorities,’ says Senator Markey. ‘As President Trump proposes devastating cuts to Medicare, food assistance, and Head Start, it makes no sense to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new nuclear weapons that undermine deterrence and make Americans less safe. We should fund education, not annihilation.’
‘Unfortunately, Senator Markey is unable to move a majority of the US Senate to support his act due to the lobbying power of the companies which are manufacturing the nuclear weapons systems,’ says Mr Ware. ‘We can reduce this pro-nuclear lobbying power, and encourage the companies to get out of the nuclear weapons business, by nuclear weapons divestment.’
The Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign shows how anyone can be involved. The can move their government to divest from nuclear weapons companies if they live in a non-nuclear-weapon country. Or they can move their university, religious institution, bank, pension fund or city to divest from nuclear weapons companies regardless of where they live. Already four governments and a number of cities, religious institutions, banks and pension funds have done so.
‘Next week parliamentarians, faith communities and peace organisations around the world will commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,’ says Vanda Proskova, PNND Research Officer. ‘Amongst the many actions around the world will be calls for further divestment from nuclear weapons corporations.’
In order to highlight the issue, the World Future Council along with PNND and other partners, will hold Count the Nuclear Weapons Money, an action during UN Disarmament Week (October 24-30) to ‘count out’ the $1 trillion budgeted for nuclear weapons for the next ten years, and reallocate this money to better areas.
One million mock notes, each of $1million value, will be counted by people of all ages, nations, backgrounds; celebrities, activists, politicians, UN officials, diplomats, artists, religious leaders, sportspeople, refugees and others. The counting will take place in front of the United Nations and at other relevant locations in New York.
‘Counting the money note-by-note, non-stop over seven days and nights, will demonstrate what an exorbitant amount of money is being wasted on nuclear weapons – money which is sorely needed to end poverty, protect the climate, provide adequate health care and basic education, fund the United Nations and achieve the sustainable development goals,’ says Holger Güssefeld, Creative Director of Count the Nuclear Weapons Money. ‘The event will reach millions of people, encouraging them to take action to end investments in nuclear weapons, and reinvest in peace and the planet.’