The arms trade is a major cause of human rights abuses. Some governments spend more on military expenses than on social development, communications infrastructure and health combined. While every nation has the right and the need to ensure its security, in these changing times, arms requirements and procurements may need to change too.
Each year, around $45-60 billion worth of arms sales are agreed. Some two-thirds of sales are made to developing countries. The 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, Russia, France, United Kingdom and China), together with Germany and Italy account for over 80% of the arms sold between 2001 and 2008. Some of the arms sold go to regimes where human rights violations will occur. Corruption often accompanies arms sales due to the large sums of money involved.
World military spending had reduced since the Cold War ended, but a few nations such as the US retain high level spending. In recent years, global military expenditure has increased again and is now comparable to Cold War levels again. Recent data shows global spending at over $1.4 trillion, annually (or $1.2 trillion at constant 2005 prices). The highest military spender is the US accounting for just under half of the world’s spending, more than the rest of the G7 (most economically advanced countries) combined, and more than all its potential enemies, combined.