Less than 3% of G7 military spending could help end global hunger and solve Global South debt crisis

June 12, 2024

With funds equivalent to just 2.9 percent ($35.7 billion) of their combined annual military spending, Group of Seven (G7) countries could help end world hunger and solve the debt crisis in the Global South, reveals new Oxfam analysis ahead of the G7 Summit in Borgo Egnazia, Italy.

Eradicating world hunger in all its forms would require $31.7 billion more annually from donors, and Oxfam estimates that the G7’s fair share of debt relief efforts for the world’s poorest countries is equivalent to $4 billion, for a total of $35.7 billion.

Governments are finding their pockets run deep to fund war today, but when it comes to stopping starvation they are suddenly broke,” said Oxfam International’s Head of Inequality Policy Max Lawson.

“We’re talking about a small commitment with the potential for huge impact. Imagine a world where no one goes to bed hungry and where countries in the Global South can put money into public schools and hospitals instead of debt interest payments. The G7 not only has the means, but the moral and strategic imperative to make this happen,” said Lawson.

Hunger is rising rapidly in many places, including Somalia, Guatemala, Yemen and Kenya, with devastating consequences. Over 281 million people are now grappling with severe hunger and malnutrition. Gaza is facing one of the most severe hunger crises in the world, caused by Israel’s ongoing onslaught and siege of the enclave. People are already in extreme suffering and dying of starvation and treatable diseases. These deaths will increase at a faster rate unless a ceasefire is forged and full humanitarian access and safe distribution are allowed.

Oxfam is calling on the G7 to reiterate its demand on Israel to implement the recent ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to halt military operations in Rafah and allow the access of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The G7 must also ensure their economic policies and agreements with Israel are not financially enabling potential genocide in Gaza. Under the Genocide Convention and international humanitarian law, states are obliged to take all political, economic, and military countermeasures within their power to prevent genocide. This includes immediately halting exports of arms and munitions that might risk use in war crimes or facilitate potential genocide. It goes beyond complicity; states are obligated to act to prevent genocide.

“The G7’s collective failure has basically given the Israeli military a free pass to commit terrible atrocities against Palestinian people. G7 leaders must do everything in their power to make sure there is an immediate and permanent ceasefire to stop the death and destruction. They also need to ensure full and permanent access of humanitarian aid through all ground crossings, and the release of all hostages and unlawfully detained Palestinian prisoners,” said Lawson.

“The G7 must also deploy all diplomatic efforts to stop further escalation in Lebanon and Yemen —should regional instability escalate into all-out war, the devastation will spare no one,” said Lawson.

Oxfam’s analysis also shows that despite G7 countries owing low- and middle-income countries $15 trillion in unpaid aid and funding for climate action, they are demanding that Global South pay $291 million a day in debt repayments and interests.

In May, Pope Francis said cancelling the debts of countries unable to repay them is “a matter of justice”, and outlined his vision for the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee. Low- and middle-income countries are now spending nearly a third of their budgets on servicing debts ―as much as on public education, healthcare and social protection combined.

The G7 summit comes on the heels of Brazil’s historic proposal to tax the super-rich globally under their G20 Presidency. With the inequality gap widening, there has been mounting pressure on world leaders to increase taxes on the richest people and corporations. G7 finance ministers last month pledged to “work constructively with the Brazilian G20 Presidency,” and “to increase our efforts aimed at progressive and fair taxation of individuals.”

Oxfam estimates that higher and fairer taxes on millionaires and billionaires in G7 countries could raise over $1 trillion a year. The G7 is home to 1,211 billionaires (about 45 percent of the world’s billionaires) with a combined wealth of $8 trillion. Their wealth has grown in real terms by 74 percent over the past decade.

“Families are struggling to get food on the table, our tax systems are making the rich richer, and the solution is glaringly obvious. The G7 needs to commit to global efforts, championed by the Brazilian G20 Presidency, to increase the tax paid by billionaires and the super-rich,” said Lawson.


Notes to Editors

  • Total funding required for ending global hunger should be considered an estimate —eradicating it requires both quality funding and deeper, structural policy and social change.\
  • According to SIPRI, the G7’s combined annual military spending in 2023 was $1.2 trillion. Canada spent $27.2 billion, the US $916 billion, Japan $50.2 billion, France $61.3 billion, Germany $66.8 billion, Italy $35.5 billion, and the UK $74.9 billion.
  • One in ten people around the world did not have enough food to eat last year, and 281.6 million people were extremely food insecure.
  • UN Security Council resolution UNSC 2417 – Protection of civilians in armed conflict.
  • In May, Pope Francis said cancelling the debts of countries “that will never be able to repay them” is “a matter of justice.”
  • In their communiqué, G7 finance ministers last month pledged to “continue to work constructively with the Brazilian G20 Presidency to advance international tax co-operation [and] work to increase our efforts aimed at progressive and fair taxation of individuals.”
  • There are 2,735 billionaires in the world, and 1,211 live in G7 countries (44.3 percent).

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