Armed violence a major obstacle to development – UN agency

12 May 2010 – Armed violence remains one of the main obstacles to the achievement the social development and poverty alleviation targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations development chief said today at a conference to address the problem.

“Armed violence has a devastating effect on development progress,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). “Life as normal is severely disrupted – affecting citizens’ safety and security and access to basic services and livelihoods,” she told the gathering in Geneva, co-hosted by UNDP and the Norwegian foreign ministry.

“The international community can mobilise to deter the proliferation and use of the weapons which fuel this violence,” Miss Clark added.

Delegates from international organizations, civil society, and 60 States attended the conference to discuss strategies to tackle armed violence.

Their conclusion will contribute to the 2010 MDGs review process, leading up to the High Level MDGs summit in New York in September, when world leaders will gather to assess progress, identify gaps, and commit to a concrete action agenda to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

“Every day armed violence kills more than 2,000 people,” said Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre. “The majority of these fatalities are civilians. This is a fundamental challenge to our common humanitarian and developmental goals. States must come together and work in partnership with the UN and civil society to take action against armed violence now,” he said.

Each year, armed violence in non-conflict States costs the world’s economies approximately $163 billion, more than the sum total of all official development assistance (ODA), according to UNDP.

At the conference, represented countries endorsed commitments to strive to reduce and curb armed violence. By signing on to the Oslo Commitments on Armed Violence sponsored by Norway and UNDP, States committed themselves to a wide range of actions, including better monitoring and recording of armed violence and supporting victims through the provision of adequate care and rehabilitation.

The commitments also call for the integration of armed violence into development plans at all levels of Government and urge strengthened international cooperation and assistance to prevent and reduce armed violence.

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