Building Peace in Societies Affected by Small Arms
The United Nations Department of Peace Operations (DPO) and Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) are implementing a joint project on ‘Effective Weapons and Ammunition Management in a Changing Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration Context’. This work aims to promote innovative approaches for peacekeepers on the ground, in order to assist them in designing and implementing effective and tailored disarmament and WAM operations as part of their DDR and CVR programming. This is facilitated through guidance material and technical assistance based on the most relevant, globally accepted standards, and consistent with international and regional commitments of host Governments. This project has been selected to be presented at the second edition of the Paris Peace Forum, in line with the Forum’s aim to engage practitioners, as well as governments and international actors of global governance.
This article was originally published by the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) in July 2018 and reproduced with IPS’s permission.
From children living in fear of cattle rustlers in South Sudan to families fleeing violent armed groups in the Central African Republic, trafficked small arms are devastating livelihoods and displacing communities.
In 2015, a high-level United Nations panel recognized how illicit weapons traffickers embed themselves in conflicts, fueling the violence and preying on vulnerable societies. The security and humanitarian impact of small arms is particularly alarming in conflict-affected societies, where weak institutions and border controls allow for diversion of arms in large numbers.
Spoilers to peace use the free flow of small arms to derail peace processes, threaten elections, fuel terrorism, and commit gender-based violence, all while restricting deliveries of humanitarian assistance and complicating efforts to move from conflict to peace.
In December 2017, a top UN peacekeeping report argued that small arms were responsible for most of the violence behind a rise in peacekeeping fatalities since 2011
It is not just civilians whose daily lives are threatened by the diversion, poor regulation and illicit transfer of small arms. In December 2017, a top UN peacekeeping report argued that small arms were responsible for most of the violence behind a rise in peacekeeping fatalities since 2011. The United Nations can and must do more to address this problem.
Our peacekeeping and disarmament departments are working to save lives and build a safer, more secure world by helping prevent armed conflict and mitigating its impact. In 2018, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres launched Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), an initiative to strengthen the effectiveness and impact of UN peacekeeping. A4P mobilizes all stakeholders involved in peacekeeping, including governments that support, contribute to and host peacekeeping operations and helps peacekeepers respond better to the needs of the people that they serve and protect.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s new disarmament agenda, Securing Our Common Future, strengthens partnerships for peace and security, placing human beings at the center of United Nations disarmament and arms regulation activities. On the ground, our peace operations are deepening their support to governments on small arms control. In the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali, for example, the United Nations has assisted with registering and marking weapons, as well as with establishing national small arms commissions and stockpile management programmes.
Simultaneously, as part of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration processes supported by peacekeeping operations, the United Nations is also implementing effective and context- specific approaches, such as Community Violence Reduction, which is programming that counters instability and violence by helping populations address local needs. Community-based activities in Mali and the Central African Republic, for example, are tackling drivers of armed violence and building trust through grassroots activities.
Our departments are also working together to develop practical guidance and training for our personnel, maximizing their ability to address weapons and ammunition management prior to and during United Nations peace operations. They are also supporting similar initiatives for African Union- led peace operations.
As part of his new disarmament agenda, the Secretary-General has set out new and innovative ways to fund work by governments and United Nations offices to tackle the small arms threat.
This work — which will range from managing and destroying weapons to supporting law enforcement and educating the public — is aimed at enhancing what the Secretary-General calls “disarmament that saves lives”. We hope that such efforts will contribute directly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In addition to United Nations efforts, regional and national initiatives are critical. The African Union has committed “to own its future” by ending armed violence across the continent by 2020, and the United Nations stands behind this effort to “silence the guns”.
At the global level, governments gathered in New York in June 2018 and renewed their commitment to stemming the illicit circulation of small arms, including in conflict-affected settings. They recognized that the illicit trade in small arms continues to sustain conflict and exacerbate armed violence. Investing in arms control is investing in conflict prevention. By working at every level to rein in uncontrolled weapons, we can curtail violence, reduce human suffering and sow the seeds for a more peaceful future.
Views expressed in this publication are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Paris Peace Forum.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations
Mr. Lacroix brings to the position over 25 years of political and diplomatic experience, with a focus on multilateral organizations, and on United Nations activities and programmes.
Mr. Lacroix served from 2014 to 2017 as Director for United Nations, International Organizations, Human Rights and Francophonie at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
His previous appointments include Ambassador of France to Sweden, Chief of Protocol of France, Deputy Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in New York, Deputy Chief of Mission at the French Embassy in Prague and First Secretary then Second Counsellor at the French Embassy in Washington.
Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu assumed her position as Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs on 1 May 2017. Prior to taking on this post, Ms. Nakamitsu served as Assistant Administrator of the Crisis Response Unit at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 2014.
She has many years of experience within and outside the United Nations system, most recently as Special Adviser Ad Interim on Follow-up to the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants between 2016 and 2017. She was previously Director of the Asia and the Middle East Division of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations between 2012 and 2014, and Director of the Department’s Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training, from 2008 to 2012.