The United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (New York, 9 to 20 July 2001) was a milestone in the fight against the illicit flow of small arms. In the adopted Programme of Action, States undertook to address the special needs of children affected by armed conflict, in particular reunification with their families, reintegration into civil society and appropriate rehabilitation. They also decided to promote dialogue and a culture of peace by encouraging education and public awareness programmes. The official website of the conference is smallarms at UNODA.
The General Assembly mandated a group of governmental experts to prepare a United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education to promote teaching and training of disarmament to children at the primary and secondary levels and to devise strategies to introduce disarmament and non-proliferation education for children into post-conflict situations as a contribution to peace-building. The report will be presented to the 57th session of the Assembly in 2002. See Education web site UNODA.
The Department of Disarmament Affairs and UNICEF produced an exhibit “Taking aim at small arms: defending children's rights” about the dangers of the excessive proliferation and availability of small arms to children. The exhibit, designed for travel, can now be visited virtually at www.unicef.org/smallarms/exhibit. It is also available for travel and States and organizations are encouraged to display it.
The Department of Disarmament Affairs is partnering with the Hague Appeal for Peace in education for disarmament action pilot projects that offer young people alternatives to the use of weapons and promote non-violent behaviour. Starting in Albania, Cambodia, Niger and Peru, the projects aim to sustain community efforts for weapons collection for development programmes.
Practical disarmament measures are designed to assist States with small arms proliferation through weapons collection and weapons for development programmes. With the help of children, these programmes offer an opportunity for communities to reclaim their towns and villages from illicit guns and gain in investments in schools, public services and community health.