Issue Brief on “Military Spending and Human Development: Setting Priorities Right in the Era of COVID-19”


According to the latest statistics released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), global military expenditure in 2019 has increased 3.6 per cent as compared to 2018 and represents 2.2 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). This upsurge has been declared as the highest annual military spending since 2010 and reached US $1917 in 2019. [1] The global arms transfer in 2015 – 2019 was 5.5 per cent higher than in 2010 – 2014.[2] This time two Asian countries, India and China made it to the top five. It has come as no surprise because military spending in Asia is constantly increasing since 1989.[3] Both countries have the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) ranking among the top ten global military spenders.[4] However, the performance of other top military spenders on HDI is not as impressive as their military build-up (Table 1) and the recent coronavirus crisis has badly exposed this reality. This is a time when countries could set their priorities right by choosing human development over the excessive military modernization.

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