Disarmament and development

Linked with Pascal Boniface – France, and with Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques IRIS.

Published on Désarmement Genève, by Mr. Pascal Boniface, February 5-7, 2003.

The logic of disarmament for the development is registered in the UNO Charter itself of which the article 26# sets for mission to the Security Council to support the establishment and the maintenance of peace and international safety by diverting towards the armaments only the minimum of human and economic resources of the world …

… II – The way of the taxation:

It is a question of creating resources by the creation of a tax related to the activities of defence. The difficulties are many. It is necessary for that this type of operation is set up, that at least the richest countries accept the principle of an international taxation. One knows the debates – and impossibility of succeeding – on the “Tobbin Tax”. Can one imagine that, based on which plate related to the activities of defence, the imposition will be accepted better? It risks to be more defended that one will not be subjected. The potential not-contributors will be enthusiastic, the contributors definitely less.

Let’s mention some projects or proposals however:

  • 1. To tax the sales with weapons – The sales of weapons are often presented like strategically destabilising, economically and socially expensive for the purchasing countries. They are generally done – but not only – in a North-South direction. Taxation will have to thus rest on the States suppliers which are mainly the developed countries. But these one are not direct operators, most of the time the industries of armament belong to private capital. Wouldn’t they be caused to consequently to reflect the cost of the imposition in the final price, in the end supporting taxation on the purchasing countries, generally not producers, therefore very often not industrialised? A country which would produce for itself on the other hand would be exempted. Also let us note that the sales of weapons represent only 7% of the world military expenditure, which limits the range of a taxation. In fact it is not exports of weapons as such which are illegitimate, but excesses can be made. In this way they are instruments as the European code of which fixed the necessary limits between the morality and the immorality of the weapons sales.
    - If restrictions must be brought to the transfers of armament, it is for other reasons that those aiming to facilitate the development: political criteria compared to repressive regimes, solvency and/or debt of the purchasing country, etc.
  • 2. Another solution would consist in taxing not only the transfers with armament, but also the productions. This measurement would have a triple merit:
    - it would encourage truly the countries to disarm;
    - it would restore the reciprocity between producer countries and purchasing countries;
    - in terms of development, even if this aspect should not be privileged, his financial statement would be 5 times superior with the tax only on the sales of weapons. In this case, it is the country which would incorporate the materials in its armies in the form
    of national production or in the form of imports which would be submitted to the tax.
  • 3. An alternative formula would consist in establishing a tax on the whole of the military expenditure and not only on the equipment expenditure. Here too there is a difficulty. All the budgets are not transparent. But at least, one knows in a precise way the military expenditure of the countries developed from the transparency of the budgetary procedures. The richest countries thus will be easily targeted.
  • 4. To suggest not to tax the armament transfers but the number of nuclear warheads. This idea could profit from public support and from the support of many governments because the majority of them are at the head of governments which do not have nuclear weapons. In term of disarmament, it would have the major disadvantage to give an official character and internationally recognised to nuclear arsenals held by countries not considered, like nuclear States within the NPT. This measurement would thus not serve disarmament, on the opposite.
    Moreover , any additional effort of disarmament would cause to decrease the resources basis for the development.
  • 5. A tax on the number of soldiers: It could be considered as hypocrite on behalf of the Western countries, since the armies of the Third World are more numerous because not professional. The way of taxation thus seems to run up against many obstacles. The political good-will to implement it was not the least. It is obviously less ambitious, but can make it possible to expect more accessible results in short term.

III – The voluntary help:

… (full text).

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