Opportunities in the public spending squeeze: conflict prevention

By Jonathan Bartley
February 8, 2010

Ekklesia attends (when time allows) the All Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues (APPGCI) as part of our work in this area.

Tomorrow (9 February) the chair of the group, Simon Hughes MP, has an Adjournment Debate in Westminster Hall which will look at Government Policy on Conflict Prevention

Among the things that the Group has been exploring is the huge disparity between money spent on conflict prevention, when compared to what we spend on military intervention (which of course, so often exacerbates conflict).

It works out at somewhere in the region of £1 on conflict prevention for every £2000 spent on military interventions. The Oxford Research Group has done some great work in showing how cost-effective conflict prevention can be. Dr Scilla Elworthy, the Chair of Peace Direct, also gave some striking examples to the Group last year. For example, the weapons collection scheme in El Salvador which ended the high-jacking of trucks after the civil war, cost approximately £900,000. Between 1998 and 2000, the Otpor student campaign to monitor elections in Serbia cost just £3 for each student trained and deployed, of whom there were an estimated 20,000. This prevented the election results being distorted and led to the expulsion of Milosevic.

Simon Hughes has secured the extended 90-minute debate to invite MPs to discuss with the Government the increasing significance of conflict prevention in the coming strategic defence review.

Against a background of expected cuts in defence spending, he will put the case that conflict prevention offers a realistic way of dealing with conflict at a much lower cost, both financially and 'in blood'.

You can encourage your MP to attend by debate by sending a message here: http://www.parliament.uk/about/contacting/mp.cfm

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.