Five Percent Campaign – The same vision expressed in a variety of ways

The Five Percent Campaign is conceived as a vision and a demand that can work in a coalition format and/or which can complement existing campaigns, inspire new campaigns and which can resonate at any given point of entry – whether you are a civil society group, a parliamentarian, a nation.  Whether you live in the USA or Ghana, Taiwan or Russia, Brazil or Finland,  India or Guatemala, we hope there is a place for your concerns under the campaign umbrella.

Regional Relevance and Appropriateness Is Key to the Campaign.

  • Top 20 spenders: Our first target is ‘Top 20’ military spending nations. The biggest spenders account for a staggering 87% of global military expenditure and more than 85% of the global arms trade. We call on them to cut 5% year on year for the first 10 years.
  • Middle East: We also believe the campaign will also have a particular (and different) resonance, post Arab awakening/uprisings, for civil societies groups in the Middle East. Military expenditure in the region has been growing exponentially, linked as that is, to wider foreign policy linkages between the USA and the region (including Israel). Israel’s peace movement and Israeli/Palestinian peace initiatives would be key to some of this work.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Civil society experience of military expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa is – generally speaking – one of procurer from richer nations, who in turn profit hugely from selling arms to (often poor) African nations. Small arms also proliferate.  In a 2008 report by IANSA, Oxfam, Saferworld entitled Africa’s Missing Billions, it was estimated that armed conflict cost Africa $18bn annually.
  • Brazil – is spending more on arms now that its economy is growing, despite the historic truth that it does not have a history of border concerns/‘natural enemies’. So why spend?  Could Brazil be encouraged to offer hope for a different approach?
  • India – all the major arms sales nations see India as an important new market – especially the UK and USA. In February 2013, accompanying David Cameron on his trip to India were representatives of a dozen British or partly British-based companies with defence interests: Rolls-Royce, Serco, BAE, EADS, Thales, Atkins, Cobham, JCB, Strongfield Technologies, MBDA, Ultra Electronics.
  • Far East – With the rise of China’s economic power comes its military threat to (and potential militaristic domination over) the region – at least according to the rhetoric of several governments in the region and the United States. The United States has been pressuring countries, particularly Japan and South Korea, to properly contribute to their ‘fair share of responsibilities’ in the regional ‘security’, as can be seen in their massive increase in military expenditure since George W. Bush’s presidency. This regional arms race create unnecessary and dangerous tension and ‘insecurity’, despite of economic integration and social exchanges being a better way in maintaining peace and bringing prosperity, as demonstrated in the case of Taiwan. The China-Taiwan relationship had been volatile and on the verge of war more than once, but the relation has vastly improved (at least in the eyes of ordinary people) so much after the opening up of trade and social exchange that there has been a strong anti-arms purchasing movement ever since.


Brazil is historically a peaceful nation: it lives in peace with its neighbors and governs its international relations, among others, by the constitutional principles of non-intervention, defense of peace and peaceful conflict resolution.

One of the main tasks of the Ministry of Defense is to establish policies related to the security of the country.  To ensure the completeness of the bordering regions, Brazil has a Strategic Plan for Borders, which provides enhanced security in the 16,866 km of borders with 10 countries to prevent and inhibit crimes in the bordering areas, prevent the entry of weapons and drugs, and improve the quality of life of about six million people living in remote towns. Since 1906, military conscription is an obligatory act to all men born in Brazil on completing 18 years of age.

Another indirect action plan for the defense of national independence is the development of a robust military industry. The Politics of Science, Technology and Innovation for National Defense aims to stimulate scientific and technological development and is part of the plan of the National Defense Strategy.

Embraer is a brand synonymous with commercial and business aviation, but can it also become one of the world’s largest defense firms? The Brazilian aerospace company is repositioning itself to achieve that goal, and the catalyst for the move is a series of multibillion-dollar defense contracts that are coming up for grabs in Brazil.“We are trying to emulate in Brazil what European and American defense companies have done in the past,” says Aguiar, referring to companies such as Boeing, which has defense and commercial/business aviation activities that are managed separately, each with its own CEO.… Embraer is interested in buying more defense companies, particularly ones with expertise in monitoring and surveillance. The preference, however, is for local rather than foreign acquisitions.One upside of developing a defense business is that Embraer can benefit from government largesse and mitigate downturns in commercial and business aviation. It also means that some of Embraer’s R&D costs are covered by the government.

Brazil’s Defense Spending Prompts Embraer To Change Tack, Leithen Francis, Aviation Week,13/08/2012

Far East

Regional economic integration and social and cultural interactions arguably contributed far more to bring peace and prosperity than the ‘stability’ resulting from the military standoff. (Appendix 4.18) One notable example can be found across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan for historical reasons used to have very volatile relationship with Mainland China – up until 1979 when USA changed its diplomatic recognition of both China and Taiwan, Taiwanese government was still actively pursuing its aim of “recovering the mainland”.  Effectively acting as a buffer between the current only superpower in the world and an aspiring superpower, the martial affair of Taiwan remains a delicate and explosive issue. Despite the apparent volatility around the Taiwan Strait, in Taiwan at least, there have been growing and significantly calls for reduction in military spending.

China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner and reciprocally Taiwan has been one of China’s main sources of foreign direct investment. With the economic integration comes close cultural and social exchanges that has led many to argue that there is an opportunity to enjoy a “peace dividend” – the stable cross-strait relationship allows Taiwan to reduce military expenditure without compromising its security. Many of these people treat arms deals with USA as furthering its imperial aims rather than addressing the ‘imbalance of military strength’ across the Strait.

This sentiment, combined with weaker economic performance compared to other East Asian economic powerhouses, arguably contributed to the reduction of military spending between 2001 and 2005. USA president George W Bush soon after coming into the office proposed several arms deals to Taiwan. The negotiations was pushed back in 2004 when a huge demonstration of tens of thousands of people took place to protest against arms purchases totaled NT$610 billion (US$18 billion).  Each was holding a cup of ‘pearl milk tea’ – a characteristic Taiwanese drink – in response to the government’s call for every citizen to drink one cup less of pearl milk tea a week to fund the arms purchase. The negotiation for these arms deals has dragged on, even now. With the lackluster economic performance (one of the worst) after the financial crisis, the anti-arms purchasing movement remains strong.

Indian Sub-Continent

All the major arms sales nations see India as an important new market – especially the UK and USA.

In February 2013, accompanying David Cameron on his trip to India were representatives of a dozen British or partly British-based companies with defence interests: Rolls-Royce, Serco, BAE, EADS, Thales, Atkins, Cobham, JCB, Strongfield Technologies, MBDA, Ultra Electronics.

India is on a military buying spree that’s made it the belle-of-the-global-military ball…. India’s long shopping list calls for $20 billion in fighter jets, $1.5 billion worth of refueling aircraft and billions of dollars in submarines, tanks and artillery, among other equipment, all part of an estimated $80 billion spending spree over the next five years. “India’s a little yokel with pockets full of cash and everyone’s trying to mug it,” said Ajai Shukla, a defense analyst and former army colonel.

India is darling of global defense firms, Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times, 30/03/2012

Current Military-spend Related Campaigns

This proposal draws inspiration from many existing – often longstanding – campaigns already out there and which address a variety of issues. It is our hope that The 5% Formula (5% absolute annual cuts and the 5% threshold rule) can offer a way through which all of those campaigning in this field can see a way to come together under a universal principle that can add even more value to their work while also delivering a new, overarching demand around which to campaign together, where-ever in the world we are.

The business of military expenditure and by extension, defence industry sales (at home or overseas), is a truly globalised one which – we feel – demands a globalised, co-ordinated response. One that can ‘re-present’ the ‘peace’ issue to a wider audience (media, public, policy-makers) bringing together all those with many years of experience on this issue with newcomers to the issue.

Option 10% invites member states of the Union to reduce their arms spending by 10% to finance the struggle against poverty in Europe and throughout the world.

In support of the 10% option and to coincide with EU elections in 2009,  Freres Des Hommes and International Peace Bureau encouraged various EU publics to send the message ‘Europe: less money for arms, more money for solidarity‘ to political candidates and groups:

In Europe, many citizens bemoan the fact that every day the Union distances itself more from its founding ideals of solidarity. All the more reason why the instabilities worsened by the economic crisis continue to spread.  In Africa, Asia and Latin America, other citizens, more numerous still, are subjected on a daily basis to the violent and aggressive situations that lead to poverty and hunger, all while waiting for the day when the abolition of poverty will finally take the place of the international arms race. We are waiting for European groups and political leaders to recognize the scale and legitimacy of these democratic goals.  Keeping in mind the commitment to the reduction of poverty signed by all the states as a part of the Millennium Development Goals, we ask that the European Union take part in strategic plans advocated for by the UN for a progressive disarmament for the abolition of poverty and sustainable and solidarity development.  In light of the European year for the struggle against poverty in 2010, we are submitting for public and parliamentary discussion the Option 10%, which invites member states of the Union to reduce their arms spending by 10% to finance the struggle against poverty in Europe and throughout the world.

Suggested Arms Sales Campaign – ‘Don’t Buy, Don’t Sell’

Currently 60% of global arms sales go to developing nations from a handful of rich nations. In the case of many (often smaller but not necessarily) developing nations, or nations whose defence relies on buying from rich nations and their respective defence industries, we would like to suggest a ‘sub-campaign’ – called ‘Don’t Buy, Don’t Sell’.  A kind of ‘solidarity’ campaign between campaigners in the north and south.