The 5% Campaign

Divert. Transform. Sustain

A campaign for civil society north and south

  • An international campaign to deliver deep sustainable cuts to excessive global military spending in order to redirect savings to global wants and needs.
  • Via a feasible two-stage ‘5%’ formula applicable by civil society across the globe
  • Delivering a new ‘structural’ campaign to expose the winners & losers in the global military spending relationship: governments & defence industries; citizens & environment.

The primary task of the Five Percent campaign proposal is to get runaway military spending taken up as a ‘structural campaign issue’ by UK international development NGOs, working alongside partners in the global south and North America. We argue that excessive military spending is a global development issue and that current (and increasing) levels of military spending – especially on the global scale-  has been ignored for far too long.

The Five Percent proposal offers a ‘road-map’ for civil society around the world to demand cuts to excessive military spending and to take up the international solidarity campaign call – ‘Don’t Buy Don’t Sell’.  We are fast approaching $2trillion p/a on global military spending. This is without the ‘costs’ of actual war (ie veterans, environmental and infrastructure costs etc). It is doubly scandalous at times of austerity that nations are increasing military budgets while public services are being cut.

Our proposal argues that we need to place excessive global military spending alongside other established international development  ‘structural’ campaigns in order to divert taxpayers money to better use, whether that be international ‘development’ focused or in support of the global green economy, and, as a result of a more intense spotlight on it, become more widely integrated into civil society dialogue and activism.

By joining the ranks of debt cancellation and tax justice, military spending savings could be regarded as yet one more significant ‘new’ revenue stream, redirecting the funds captured to serving the needs of the global community. Inevitably, increased debate around what we mean by ‘defence’ and, central to this, the question of whose interests are really served by the ever increasing global military expenditure, would be at the heart of this effort.

Ultimately, this brings us back to the fundamental need to see military spending as every bit as central to understanding  power, poverty,  economic collapse, unjust distribution of resources as other structural campaigns like debttradetax, climate change and most recently the so-called ‘war on drugs’.  It is not an adjunct to any of these issues – it is implicated in each and every one of them.

As leading activist and author of Shadow World Andrew Feinstein has said, ‘neoliberalism needs the war machine’. And as we see ever greater movement of peoples due to conflict and climate change, this is doubly true as the movement of peoples creates an opportunity for an even greater military ‘security’ presence.


The 5% Formula is a TWO-PART mechanism to achieve major, year-on-year cuts to global military spending over 10 years and beyond. It is a long-term, sustainable campaign, with a top-line demand that works for civil society groups in every country where there is a perceived value in challenging policies concerning military spending.

The first decade calls on the top 20 spenders (who account for 87% of $1.7 trillion world spending) to cut their military spending by 5% each year for decade.  This would see annual global military spending cut by 40% after the first decade, back to mid 1990s spending levels ie $1 trillion dollars, the lowest in recent history (‘lowest’ still being far too high). This would deliver an estimated $700 billion to be redirected to core urgent human and environmental needs.

After the first 10 years, we call upon all nations to adopt the 5% threshold rule to sustainably restrain the global military spending – no country allows any increase in military spending to outstrip economic growth. Most economies grow less than 3% annually; this effectively translates as 2% annual reduction to their military spending.

For example:

 0% economic growth = 5% cut to annual military spend

2% growth = 3% cut to annual military spend

5% growth = no increase

7% growth = only 2% increase on annual military spend.


  • The ‘business’ of the defence industry does not advance or respect notions of ‘sensible defence’ spending when so much profit is to be gained from contracts and/or war. Its close relationship with governments around the world is central to this.
  • Double standards. Approximately 70% of arms sales are made by the permanent five nations of the UN Security Council charged with keeping the peace of the world (USA, France, UK, Russia, China) – and the majority of those arms sales go to the global south.
  • This has consequences for development across the global south. It is reflected in the carnage of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other developing nations where profits are made from conflict while societies are destroyed. Selling arms with one hand and delivering aid with the other, is governmental hypocrisy
  • $2 trillion p/a on military while SDGS struggle to be funded is unacceptable. Moreover, increased inequality undermines local, national and international security.Poverty can drive conflict. Over 900 million people in the world are hungry;  40% of people in the world live on less than US$2 per day
  • Climate change. Oil is a driver for conflict in many parts of the world and is linked to increased military spending; climate change induced conflict is a development issue (ie water wars) as is the increasing role of military planning linked to climate refugee flows from global south to north.
  • Nuclear weapons are often misguidedly overlooked by wider civil society yet they comprise a huge element of military spending; are the ultimate un-useable lethal weapon sucking money from domestic needs; and they are also increasingly are part of the developing world agenda.

All these factors conspire to escalate military spending and crucially undermine international development goals. UK int’l development NGOs and partners in the global south can play a leading role in driving a ground-breaking campaign to:

  • expose and reduce the malign power and influence of the defence industry over governments and society, in the global north and global south so as to:
  • reduce military spending and divert savings into a transformative funding stream delivering social justice and meaningful investment in conflict prevention and peacekeeping
  • reduce military spending and divert savings to deliver a sustainable, non-fossil fuel, green economy that addresses the many dimensions of climate (in)justice.


This proposal stands on the shoulders of those in the peace movement who have long campaigned on the war-spending/arms trade issues, but it is an area that the major players in the development sector have not sought to take on in the same way with the same courage. Moreover, as ‘development’ is interlinked with climate change and the military has a major (albeit relatively unknown) role in climate change, this proposal also speaks to everyone concerned with climate change.

As we head towards the $2 trillion p/a global military spend red-line, we should all be deeply concerned, for many reasons.  A far greater civil society effort is needed to place military spending in the spotlight as we enter yet more uncertain times.

We Are Many movie

This campaign proposal is part of our ongoing commitment to this issue. Tipping Point Film Fund has been a lead partner on the feature-length documentary We Are Many directed by Amir Amirani and released in 2015, with a second wave release to mark the Chilcot Report in 2016.  We Are Many explores the untold legacy of the global anti-war movement mobilized at the time of the Iraq invasion; is about the power of people coming together and the consequences of excessive war/military spending on us, the 99%. It  includes interviews with more than 50 leading activists from across the world.

Download this brief introduction (pdf).


Read Full Report: The Five Percent Campaign (pdf also available) and/or the Executive Summary (pdf also available)


It seems impossible until it’s done

Speaking of struggles and wins, Nelson Mandela once said ‘It seems impossible until it’s done’.

And as Martin Luther King pointed out, power doesn’t surrender itself – it has to be taken.

We know, in history, so many struggles have taken decades to reach their goal. But, for all that, wins do come.

We want excessive, runaway military spending to be put in this same spotlight. We need a major civil society effort to address this tough issue – with all its vested interests – head on.

The short video below puts this new campaign proposal in context.

NOTE: This short non-commercial video is made from various clips, pics and other media borrowed from a variety of sources and used for educational/informational reference only.

Introduction and Issues

NOTE: All the short non-commercial videos above are made from various clips, pics and other media borrowed from a variety of sources and used for educational/informational reference only.


News, Events and Updates.

BAE Systems shares fall over Germany’s ban on arms exports to Saudis

Defence company BAE Systems’ share price fell sharply on Thursday after it warned that a German ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, imposed after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, could scupper a multibillion-pound deal to sell Typhoon fighter jets. Alongside its annual results on Thursday, BAE Systems stressed that its business is “reliant on the approval …

Where USA is at War

contrary to what most Americans believe, the war on terror is not winding down—it has spread to more than 40 percent of the world’s countries. The war isn’t being waged by the military alone, which has spent $1.9 trillion fighting terrorism since 2001. The State Department has spent $127 billion in the last 17 years …

About Us

Tipping Point North South

Tipping Point North South Ltd is constituted as a co-operative ‘for the benefit of society’ committed to advancing the global social justice agenda. It has three key areas of inter-related work: support for documentary film; single issue campaigning; events production.

The Five Percent Campaign has been developed by Tipping Point North South as a stand-alone proposal by Deborah Burton and Ho-Chih Lin. TPNS co-founder Kevin McCullough and TPNS founding board member Martin Drewry are the Campaign Development Consultants. (Short biographies below)

Tipping Point North South’s key activity to date (and which it trades as) has been its Tipping Point Film Fund work, supporting a small number of films in an executive producing role and working on call to action outreach campaigns (Open Bethlehem and We Are Many).

TPNS also produces in-house events (Bethlehem Unwrapped, Attlee Remembered) as well as developing its own campaigns- Make Apartheid History, From Pink to Prevention and the Five Percent Campaign.

The Five Percent Campaign team

TPNS has a wealth of combined campaign experience and expertise to draw on – especially development sector issues (debt, trade, tax, climate). The Five Percent Campaign will draw on considerable knowledge of international campaigning and (global) coalition work.

Deborah Burton – Campaign Development & Project Manager

Deborah first worked for UNESCO backed African publications before programming international film and arts festivals; a production assistant for David Puttnam’s company Enigma she went on to be Director of First Film Foundation, working with new directors from the UK, Europe and USA, developing and executive producing first films for film and TV and working with leading producers and directors as mentors.

She later became head of development for Patrick Rainsford and actor Gabriel Byrne’s company, Mirabilis – USA/Ireland/UK. Her first short screenplay starred Martin Sheen, and she is a former governor of the London Film School. A change of direction took her into the NGO sector, first in the peace movement; later she worked on environment; public health; and children’s human rights. In 2004, joined Christian Aid on Trade Justice campaign as Global Campaigner, role to popularise the campaign through enlisting internationally recognised ambassadors; delivering high profile events; film and TV projects focused on trade issues.  With her trade campaign colleague Kevin McCullough, she co-founded TPNS/TPFF in 2009.

Dr. Ho Chih Lin – Deputy Project Manager & Lead Researcher

Ho-Chih left Taiwan for UK to broaden his horizon. Prior to his involvement in social-issue documentaries, he was trained as a quantum physicist. He holds a PhD from University College London and an MSc from London School of Economics and Political Science. His PhD thesis explores an alternative approach to investigate and quantify quantum entanglement, the most intriguing aspect of quantum mechanics but also the phenomenon that makes quantum computation possible. His Masters dissertation centres on a real-life application of open innovation, particularly focusing on the influence of the design and organization of the project on group dynamics and the resulting effects on the diversity and quality of ideas generated.

His focus, however, gradually moved away from natural phenomena towards social justice issues. He first got involved with film through leading on a highly successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for the TPFF supported We Are Many feature documentary, on which he was an Associate Producer. Building on his work with TPFF on film outreach, he is now an integral part of the growth of the wider work of TPNS – in particular campaign research and social media management.  He leads on all 5% research & related social media.

Kevin McCullough – TPNS Co-founder and The Five Percent Campaign Development Consultant

Kevin is Co-Head Campaigns at the Fair Trade Foundation and has over 20 years of campaigning experience. He started out as a community worker in Belfast working on issues of conflict resolution, inner city regeneration and youth empowerment. Moving to London in 1992 Kevin began working for international development agency Christian Aid and has been at the forefront of the organisation’s campaigns on landmines, Jubilee 2000 debt cancellation, supermarkets, trade justice and climate change.

Martin Drewry – TPNS Founding Board Member and The Five Percent Campaign Advisor

Martin has a long background in the voluntary sector, initially as an award-winning grass-roots community development worker in the UK, before moving to international development.  After a few years as national secretary of World Action, a pioneering Methodist programme enabling young people and adults to take action for social justice, he spent the next decade as head of campaigns at Christian Aid.  Here he played leading roles in Jubilee 2000, Drop the Debt, the Trade Justice Movement and was one of the coordinators of Make Poverty History. Martin’s academic grounding came from the Bradford University School of Peace Studies in the mid-eighties, an experience he valued.  He became director of Health Poverty Action in April 2006 -an international NGO working with some of the poorest and most marginalized communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America  to help them change the factors that deny them their right to health.