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Ten Percent of Global Military Budget Would End World Poverty and Hunger

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A Stockholm think tank estimates that a mere 10 percent of money the world spends on its militaries every year would be enough to end global poverty and hunger in 15 years.

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World military expenditures increased 1 percent in 2015, with the United States responsible for the greatest amount by far, although it's spending dropped 2.4 percent, to $596 billion. China remained the "runner-up" for the second year in a row with $215 billion, while Saudi Arabia took third place from Russia and Britain came in fifth.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said Tuesday that the world's military spending amounted to 2.3 percent of the global gross domestic product.

The United Nations struggles in its continual search for resources to finance the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in September 2015. But SIPRI claims that just 10 percent of total global military spending would be enough to fund a 15-year plan to end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

"This gives some sort of perspective that can allow people to see what is the opportunity cost involved with global military spending," Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of SIPRI's military expenditure project, told Reuters.

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The Geneva-based International Peace Bureau previously campaigned for 10 percent annual cuts of military budgets by all UN-member states, intending to redirect the money to social and environmental spending through 2030.

According to SIPRI's annual report, there was an increase in military spending among countries in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Expenditures decreased in North America, Western Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa as a result of the global economic crisis, the downslide of oil prices and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

"On the one hand, spending trends reflect the escalating conflict and tension in many parts of the world" Perlo-Freeman explained, "On the other hand, they show a clear break from the oil-fuelled surge in military spending of the past decade."

The SIPRI military expenditure project was established in 1967. It is the first time the think tank has drawn a parallel between world military spending and the UN's new SDGs, although military expenses have routinely been compared to health and education budgets.

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