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Funding international dialogue, peace, and security: A commentary by Frank Giustra

January 05, 2022

Yemen_war_Belal Al-shaqaqi_iStock _Getty Images PlusThe cost of peace

War is expensive. Bloody and expensive. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, conflict violence cost the world $519 billion in economic activity in 2019 alone. Add to that the human cost — some seventy-six thousand lives lost that same year and millions more fleeing their homes, bringing the total number of displaced persons globally to nearly eighty million — and you begin to get the picture of the true cost of war. The United States has spent and obligated $8 trillion (including veterans care, nation building, interest payments, etc.) on the post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere through 2021. These are monies that could have gone to education, infrastructure, health care, and job creation. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, global military expenditure rose to a staggering $2 trillion last year, with the U.S .leading the way by a wide margin. All of which leads one to wonder why more is not being done to remedy this tragic situation. Where are the peace-mongers?

Well, they do exist. The good news is that there are numerous organizations dedicated to the advancement of dialogue, peace, and security. The much less good news is that these organizations collectively receive barely 1 percent of all philanthropic funding, according to a report from the Peace and Security Funders Group and Candid — and a lot less, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Global philanthropic support for efforts to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflicts totaled $376 million in 2018. Yes, millions, compared with the trillions in military expenditures. There has always been something perverse about the imbalance of resources dedicated to war versus those that are dedicated to peace. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in, and undoubtedly, the propensity for conflict will always be with us in one form or another.

Aside from the horrific human cost and the gargantuan economic costs, there is another important reason why more philanthropic funding should be directed to peace and security: Without peace and security, you can forget about advancing any of the other social issues that philanthropy is trying to address....

Read the full commentary by Frank Giustra, co-chair of the International Crisis Group and founder of Lionsgate Entertainment, Giustra Foundation, Acceso, and Million Gardens Movement.

(Photo credit: iStock/GettyImages Plus/Belal Al-shaqaqi

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