Meeting of States to Consider Action
Programme on Illicit Small Arms Trade
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
Views on preventing proliferation of small arms, light weapons heard
as meeting to review 2001 programme of action continues
Representatives of Member States, International Organizations,
Civil Society, NGOs Present Views in Two Panels, Thematic Discussion
Member States, civil society groups and international and non-governmental organizations presented their views on ways to stop the proliferation of small arms and light weapons during two panels and a thematic discussion today, as the Second Biennial Meeting to assess progress on a 2001 action plan against the illicit trade in small arms continued its work.
The Meeting, which forms part of a follow-up to the July 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, is considering implementation of an action plan that identifies national, regional and global measures to combat the illicit small arms trade, focusing on legislation, stockpile management, weapons destruction, and identification and tracing, among other things.
Convened in anticipation of the 2006 Conference that will review progress in implementing the 2001 Programme of Action, the five-day meeting provides an opportunity for States, international and regional organizations, as well as civil society to exchange information on the Programme’s implementation, consider regional and international initiatives and highlight successes and best practices in controlling and curbing the spread of small arms and light weapons.
Participants in the first non-governmental organization panel appealed to the international community to acknowledge the legitimate role of legal firearms owners, including hunters and sport shooters. Speakers highlighted the hunters’ contribution to wildlife conservation efforts and their positive impact on national economies. Cooperation between governments and non-governmental organizations, under the Programme of Action, should be as broad as possible and include non-governmental organizations from the hunting and sport shooting community, they said.
Also emphasized in the presentations was the need to take into account the views of legitimate arms brokers. The import-export industry was willing to offer its time, resources and expertise to assist the group of government experts that would soon be appointed to study the issue of brokering, one speaker said.
The second non-governmental organization panel focused on the human costs of small arms and light weapons, regulation measures and transfer controls. Noting that misuse of small arms and light weapons led to numerous casualties, trauma, lack of development, lost opportunities, violence and conflict, speakers agreed that small arms affected the lives of individuals and whole communities. For every one of the estimated 350,000 people who died from small arms use and misuse every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that with physical injuries, mental and emotional trauma may well be three times that number.
Non-governmental organizations and civil society partnerships played an important role in addressing the small arms threat, the Meeting was told. By building on the 2001 Programme of Action, the 2006 Review Conference should ensure better implementation of existing plans, while also adding new and binding agreements that would curb transfers to non-State actors, govern the licensed trade in small arms, limit civilian possession and control arms already present in communities.
Weapons collection and destruction; stockpile management; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes; resource mobilization; capacity-building; and import/export controls were among the issues addressed in the thematic discussion, which took place this afternoon.
Speakers stressed the critical role of weapons destruction in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, noting that excess stocks of small arms and light weapons were a major source of arms for terrorists and criminal gangs. Such incentives as amnesties and weapons in exchange for development were among the success stories cited by participants as they focused on lessons to be learned from existing weapons collection programmes. Country representatives shared their national experiences in that regard, considered the main remaining challenges and examined options for future cooperation.
On stockpile security and management, delegates voiced concerns about the need for capacity-building to ensure tight security and management of weapons stockpiles. There was wide agreement that the elimination of stocks and the destruction of excess weapons and ammunition led to improved security capabilities. Some speakers noted that their governments had adopted legislation to address the safe storage of small arms, and set forth sanctions for violators. Others stressed the need to establish common standards and procedures for the effective control of weapons stockpiles and inventory management. Greater international cooperation, especially at the regional and subregional levels, along with increased information exchange was critical in those efforts.
The Meeting will continue its thematic discussions at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 14 July.
First Non-Governmental Organization Panel
Participants in the first panel addressed the concerns of trade associations and legitimate arms owners, including hunters and sport shooters around the world. Speakers highlighted the hunters’ contribution to wildlife conservation efforts and their positive impact on national economies. Cooperation between governments and non-governmental organizations, under the Programme of Action, should be as broad as possible and include non-governmental organizations from the hunting and shooting community.
Also stressed in the presentations was the need to take into account the views of legitimate arms brokers. The import-export industry was willing to offer its time, resources and expertise to assist the group of government experts, which would soon be appointed to study the issue of brokering, one speaker said.
CARLO PERONI, President of the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities -- a non-governmental organization comprising over 40 hunting, sport shooting and trade associations with over 10 million individual members worldwide -- said his statement was a message of good faith and cooperation. Both were essential if there was to be real progress in the fight against illicit small arms. Unfortunately, there were those who ignored the fact that hundreds of millions of hunters and sport shooters were legitimate stakeholders in the process. The Meeting’s efforts at inclusion and transparency were to be commended. “Please do not ignore or demonize us. We want to work with you in good faith. We are not a problem -- we are part of the solution”, he said.
SEZANEH SEYMORE, Safari Club International, highlighted the positive contribution of hunters and sport shooters worldwide. According to the Swiss Small Arms Survey, over 377 million small arms were legally owned by civilians. Hunters and sport shooters played an important conservation and economic role and they were not the people upon whom United Nations efforts should focus.
Hunting had a major impact on economies as it generated substantial revenues, she said. For example, Tanzanian wildlife officials had reported $8.8 million in revenues from hunting in 2003 and Namibian wildlife officials $32 million. In Zimbabwe, a village-based wildlife management programme called CAMPFIRE generated profits by providing hunting opportunities for foreign hunters. The programme was built on a philosophy of sustainable rural development and enabled rural communities to manage and benefit directly from indigenous wildlife and other resources. Hunting fees generated through big game hunting stayed in local villages.
Sustainable use and regulated hunting of wildlife were endorsed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, she continued. Perhaps most relevant today was the fact that the Organization of American States (OAS) Firearms Protocol recognized that the purpose of enhancing international cooperation to eradicate illicit transnational trafficking in firearms was not intended to discourage or diminish lawful leisure or recreational activities, such as travel or tourism for sport shooting, hunting and other forms of lawful ownership and use recognized by the States. “We respectfully request that the world’s large number of legitimate firearms owners, hunters and competition shooters receive a similar acknowledgement from this meeting”, she said. They should be recognized as stakeholders in efforts against illicit trafficking in small arms.
EDWARD ROWE, Chairman of the Manufacturers Advisory Group, said the group distinguished between fully automatic firearms used as weapons of war and those commonly owned and used by citizens throughout the world for hunting and sport shooting. Small arms should be defined as fully automatic firearms for use as weapons of war. It was to be hoped that delegates would continue their efforts in defining small arms and would reach consensus on a definition of small arms as being those firearms capable of fully automatic fire as weapons of war. Marking and record-keeping requirements should be the prerogative of individual States and consistent with their respective legal and administrative systems.
RICHARD PATTERSON, Managing Director of Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc. (SAAMI), said the firearms industry had made safe and responsible ownership of firearms a priority. SAAMI had been setting firearms industry manufacturing standards since 1926. Given the importance of firearms safety and given that safety programmes could make a difference, delegates should acknowledge the benefits of those safety programmes in the report of the present meeting.
MARK BANES of FAIR Trade Group, an organization of businesses involved in the legal import and export of firearms across international boundaries, said its membership was concerned with the threats posed by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. They were also concerned that the proposed efforts to combat that illicit brokering would have too broad a scope and, as a result, would have an unintentional negative impact on legitimate international trade. Most international trade in firearms was for civilian hunting and the sport shooting market.
Brokering was a very complex issue and the definitions were the essence of that issue, he said. Current definitions of brokering were somewhat broad and unclear and should be tightened to cover those activities that truly represented brokering. The lack of a clear understanding among nations of the important and legitimate role that brokers played in global security, arms-law compliance and in facilitating commerce was leading to governmental policy efforts that were either ill-considered or presented enormous issues regarding the assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction. It was imperative that experts in the firearms trade be consulted so that the meeting and subsequent efforts could have the effect of both limiting the illicit trade and promoting the legitimate business transactions of companies across the world. Nations like the United States, which had well-developed regulatory schemes, could provide working examples of the elements of such schemes that were adaptable to other jurisdictions, as well as elements that were not.
If a group of government experts was to be appointed to study the issue of brokering, it was imperative that it should be made up of real experts, he insisted, adding that his group had been told that the experts could not include members from the trade itself because they would not be “government experts”. Hopefully, that was not the case. The import-export industry was willing to offer its time, resources and expertise to assist in all ways possible.
THOMAS MASON of the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities asked that the Meeting’s conclusions acknowledge the legitimacy of hunting, sport shooting and legal firearms ownership. Those hundreds of millions of citizens throughout the world were legitimate stakeholders in the process. There should also be a mention of efforts relating to firearms safety. If there was a reference to brokering in the conclusions, it should mention the need to involve the import-export community with any future group of government experts. Hopefully, there would be a recommendation that cooperation between governments and non-governmental organizations, under the Programme of Action, be as broad as possible and include non-governmental organizations from the hunting and shooting community.
Second Non-Governmental Organization Panel
Participating in the ensuing panel discussion were: Rebecca Peters, Director of International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA); Christiane Agboton-Johnson, President, Mouvement contre les armes légères en Afrique occidentale (MALAO); Balfour Amoa, Chairman, West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA); Folade Mutota, Director, Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD); Karin Wilson, Member, Million Mom March; Emperatriz Crespin, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW); Robert Mtonga, IANSA Public Health Network; Denis Mizne, Director, Instituto Sou da Paz; Ema Tagicakibau, Pacific Concerns Resource Centre; Jessica Soto, Director, Amnesty International Philippines Section; Fadi Abi Allam, President, Permanent Peace Movement; Daniel Luz, Researcher, School of Peace Culture, Autonomous University of Barcelona; Olga Palinkasev, Project Coordinator, Centre for Security Studies; Ilhan Berkol, Researcher, GRIP, Brussels; Luis Alberto Cordero, Arias Foundation for Human Progress; and Noel Stott, Researcher, Institute for Security Studies.
The discussion was moderated by Loretta Bondi, a founding member of IANSA.
Several panellists focused on the human cost of small arms and light weapons, which included loss of lives, trauma, lack of development, lost opportunities, violence and conflict. Small arms affected the lives of individuals and whole communities. For every one of the estimated 350,000 people who died from small arms use and misuse every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that there may well be three times the number of survivors with physical injuries, as well as mental and emotional trauma.
A speaker said that health-care services in some developing countries were over-burdened with gunfire victims, who often had poor chances of survival. A single hospital in El Salvador, for example, could see 60 victims in one day. In treating victims of small arms, attention was diverted from such important issues as children’s vaccinations, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and maternal health.
Guns were bad for health, a physician said, summarizing the discussion on misuse of small arms. Physicians needed to address their concerns to governments, helping the international community to understand the impact of small arms and light weapons on national health systems. The public-health sector could help evaluate the implementation of the Programme of Action and present its recommendations on the matter. By removing guns from circulation, governments were not only saving lives, they were also saving money. Prevention was better than cure.
According to WHO, men accounted for over 90 per cent of homicide victims globally. Young, poor and socially marginalized men constituted the largest group of victims and perpetrators of gun violence. However, human behaviour was the product of society and not biology, so it was important not to stereotype.
Also emphasized in the discussion was the role of women in efforts to curb the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons. Women were also victims, and they were acting as agents of change globally. While largely excluded from formal peace-making efforts, women were participating in programmes to introduce peace education in schools, collect weapons and provide assistance to victims. Efforts to combat small arms proliferation should include women at all levels. States should meet existing international norms on gender participation and eliminate male-dominated attitudes. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmers and planners should pay attention to relevant Security Council resolutions, which stressed the role of women in peace efforts.
Non-governmental organizations, churches and civil society partnerships played an important role in addressing the small arms threat, another speaker said. For example, a non-governmental organization in Sierra Leone had been involved in collecting and destroying illegal small arms in the country, providing economic incentives to those who submitted their weapons voluntarily. The Christian Council of Mozambique had collected and destroyed 600,000 guns. People who turned in their guns received tools to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Speakers expressed hope that by building on the 2001 Programme of Action, the outcome of the 2006 Conference would ensure better implementation of existing plans, while also adding new and binding agreements that would curb transfers to non-State actors, govern the licensed trade in small arms, limit civilian possession and control arms already present in communities.
The link between a bullet and its cost in terms of impact on development, one panellist explained, could be viewed in terms of direct effects that were calculated according to loss of human lives, and indirect effects in terms of potential loss to a country as reflected in diverted resources and loss of development opportunities resulting from small arms proliferation. Working to reduce the availability and demand for small arms was, therefore, crucial for sustainable development. Human safety must be regarded as the pillar of development.
Another speaker, noting that while the arms industry provided jobs, said that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons resulted in the worsening of misery in armed conflicts. That led to the emigration of young people, who ended up in the producing countries, so that in the final analysis, development was not served by the arms industry. She stressed the need to restrict the circulation of small arms and combat poverty at the same time.
A mother from Brooklyn, New York, told the story of her only son, who was murdered by a handgun during a robbery six years ago. Children were the link to immortality, as well as a legacy. “I don’t have a legacy now. It was wiped out by an illegal handgun”, she said. Her story was a reminder that small arms were a problem in developed countries as well.
The Director of IANSA stressed the need for trauma counselling to prevent re-victimization, wherein a victim became a perpetrator of more violence. There was a need for more adequate services for gunshot survivors and assistance to primary caregivers, who were often women.
International standards were already in place for law enforcement agencies to control gun use, a speaker said, but they were often not followed. Minimum standards for the use of force had been incorporated into such instruments as the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials under which those officials had the right to use lethal force only if strictly necessary to protect life and only if the force was proportional to the threat. Governments should ensure that those standards were fully complied with and effectively monitored at all levels. Adequate selection criteria and training procedures were needed. Greater police accountability should be encouraged, and governments needed to educate officials on human rights standards and respect for human life and dignity.
Members of the panel noted that illicit weapons almost always started out as legal guns. However, according to the Small Arms Survey, 60 per cent of the world’s guns were in the hands of civilians, who were also the principal victims of gun violence. A speaker said that according to the Small Arms Survey in the Pacific, most illegal arms in the region were leaked from police and military armouries. Stricter controls should be put in place to address that problem. After the tightening of laws in Canada and Australia, the gun homicide rate had dropped by 15 and 40 per cent, respectively. The rate for women had dropped even more dramatically, by 40 and 50 per cent. Also, very few governments had specific laws to regulate private security companies, which needed close monitoring.
Regarding self-defence, a panellist said that people who kept guns for self-defence were not really safer than people without guns. In El Salvador, for example, research had shown that people were four times more likely to be killed if they had a gun to defend themselves, than if they did not. It had been suggested by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Small Arms and Human Rights that States that did not adequately regulate the possession and use of small arms might be failing to meet their obligations to protect civilians.
It was also emphasized during the debate that regulation was not prohibition. People should not be prevented from hunting or pursuing recreational activities. However, guns were dangerous devices, which needed regulation. Minimum standards should be in place for all countries. If a country with strong regulations was next to a country with weak regulations, the guns flowed from one to the other. Some 80 per cent of the illegal guns recovered in Mexico, for example, were from the United States.
A number of speakers addressed the issue of child soldiers, with one panellist saying it was a sign of decadence when you had adults being defended by children. There was an urgent need to address how to combat the phenomenon and promote a culture of peace.
Turning to the question of arms transfer regulations, speakers noted that States had the right to acquire weapons for self-defence but they also had obligations under international law to transfer and use those weapons responsibly. Transparency was critical in that regard, added another speaker. It was the first step in the control and monitoring of the trade in weapons. The Programme of Action required States to comply with their obligations under international law, noted another panellist. States should agree at the Review Conference on global principles for international arms transfers, including written government authorization for all transfers and limitations on transfers contained in treaties and in United Nations resolutions regarding arms embargoes. Few countries had made the violation of arms embargoes a criminal offence under national law. The enforcement would require proper logistical and financial support.
Regarding the need for a marking and tracing instrument, panellists agreed that such an instrument would be a critical preventive tool allowing for the identification of guns entering the illicit market and for proactive measures to stop further diversions from that point.
States were responsible for countering the illegal trade, possession and theft of weapons, which fuelled armed violence and organized crime, a panellist said. They had an obligation to provide security for their populations in order to remove the need for people to own weapons for their own defence. Civilians should support and complement that process by surrendering their weapons. The issue of government credibility was very important in that respect.
A speaker said destruction was the only truly safe method of dealing with surplus weapons. That could also serve as a confidence-building measure between governments and civilians and ensure that weapons did not re-enter circulation or fall into criminal hands.
Several speakers advocated the promulgation of an international arms trade treaty with a legally-binding protocol on marking and tracing. Any future instrument on brokering should also be binding and arms transfers should be more transparent.
No matter how many agreements or laws were promulgated, international goals could not be reached without civil society participation, a speaker said. Civil society organizations could make an important contribution in the areas of research, policy development, mediation and information. They could also increase the credibility of international efforts.
The Programme of Action had been a compromise in 2001 and the 2006 Review Conference would present an opportunity for the international community to fine-tune and strengthen that instrument, she added. Global principles for arms transfers, regulation of civilian possession of arms, the gender perspective and misuse of arms were among the issues that must be addressed.
Weapons collection and destruction, stockpile management, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, resource mobilization, capacity-building, marking and tracing, and import/export controls were among the issues addressed in the thematic discussion that took place this afternoon.
Such incentives as amnesties, food for guns, buy-back programmes, and weapons in exchange for development were among the success stories cited by the participants as they focused on lessons to be learned from existing weapons-collection programmes. Country representatives shared their national experiences in that regard, considered the main remaining challenges and examined options for future cooperation.
Programmes in Rwanda and Sierra Leone were among the examples presented in the debate. A weapons-purchasing programme in Mali had been targeted at communities rather than individuals, a speaker said. The programme had provided employment for the country’s youth and helped people to obtain food. By and large, however, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes were poorly implemented due to the lack of resources, he added, in which case they tended to cause more harm than good.
Collection and destruction could not be viewed separately from such issues as production, trade, economic conditions and development, a participant said. Mainstreaming should be the main condition for the eradication of illicit weapons. Upon surrendering weapons, former combatants should be able to find gainful employment and find ways to support themselves. Governments should monitor and analyse the effect of their collection and destruction programmes, as significant resources were required to implement them. Capacity-building and assistance for that purpose were of particular importance, as was the need to emphasize community participation, education and awareness campaigns.
Several speakers agreed that along with financial support, enhancing weapons management was an important way to block illegal proliferation.
Human resource development formed a crucial part of successful stockpile security programmes, a representative of the Netherlands said. In Cambodia, for example, consistent training of local military personnel had been key to the success of the programme, which also benefited from close cooperation with the national Government. Another important issue was civilian stockpile management. As in several other regions of the world, there were “huge numbers” of unlicensed owners and unregistered guns.
Ammunition stockpiling deserved particular attention, he added. Only a couple of weeks ago, in Afghanistan, a makeshift ammunition storage dump had exploded in civilian surroundings, killing dozens of people. Experts had rightly called for the development of international minimum emergency standards for ammunition storage as soon as possible.
Speakers stressed the critical role of weapons destruction in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, noting that excess stocks of small arms and light weapons were a major source of arms for terrorists and criminal gangs. The swift destruction of collected weapons was, therefore, key to helping to prevent proliferation. Several delegations expressed concern about the effectiveness of buy-back programmes, saying that their success depended largely on how well they were controlled. It was important to ensure that the weapons did not get stolen. Buy-back plans also raised questions about where the money ended up and there was a need to ensure it was not used to purchase more weapons.
Speakers emphasized destruction as the preferable method of dealing with weapons stockpiles. The representative of the United States pointed out that destruction often served as a confidence-building measure in war-torn communities. Destroying weapons also rendered them inaccessible to those who would rearm if peace was delayed. It was best to destroy weapons during disarmament, demobilization and reintegration so as to ensure they were not available for use in neighbouring conflicts.
The representative of Ghana pointed out that people were only willing to participate in the voluntary surrendering of weapons if they were confident in the State’s ability to destroy them.
Other delegates pointed out the need for adequate infrastructure to ensure the successful collection of weapons. That, in turn, required sufficient financial resources. The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania noted that his Government did not have enough funds to buy back all illicit firearms. Collection and destruction schemes should be accompanied by development schemes, he added. The representative of Turkey urged the international community to address the need for increased financial and technical assistance to those countries that lacked adequate funds for destruction and collection of weapons. His Government was constructing an ammunition and mine destroying/disposing facility. In the first three to four years, it would be utilized for national purposes and, following that period, it could also be available to other countries. Guinea’s representative said his Government supported the idea of offering development projects in exchange for the surrender of weapons, but funding was lacking to carry out such projects.
One delegate said that with thousands of small arms remaining in civilian hands in post-conflict situations, successful collection and destruction programmes were among the achievements associated with the small arms Programme of Action. Such regional agreements as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) moratorium were among the instruments that facilitated the Programme’s implementation. Speakers also cited best practice guides, databases and partnerships as tools that could help countries to implement successful collection and destruction programmes.
International cooperation and controls must be strengthened, several speakers said, because despite collection and destruction, small arms continued to flow into their countries across the borders. Aside from government efforts, the involvement of non-governmental organizations, civil society and churches was of great importance.
Uganda’s representative stressed the need to address the root causes of violence, including poverty and underdevelopment, noting that with the lack of resources, the buy-back option presented a serious challenge for his Government. The majority of Uganda’s population favoured the “weapons for development” course of action, which would allow the country to develop infrastructure and provide services to communities.
Turning to the question of stockpile security and management, delegates voiced concerns about the need for capacity-building to ensure tight security and management of weapons stockpiles. There was wide agreement that the elimination of stocks and the destruction of excess weapons and ammunition led to improved security capabilities. Some speakers noted that their governments had adopted legislation to address the safe storage of small arms, with sanctions for violators. Others stressed the need to establish common standards and procedures for the effective control of weapons stockpiles and inventory management. That was necessary to guarantee stockpile security. Illicit trade in small arms stemmed from inadequate control of weapons stocks. Stockpiles were a source of small arms proliferation in many countries. Greater international cooperation, especially at the regional and subregional levels, along with increased information exchange was critical in those efforts.
The rehabilitation dimension of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes was often underestimated and under-funded, another speaker said. What was needed in any post-conflict situation was a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme that was sensitive to needs on the ground and an integral part of the peace process.
Serious attention should be given to the impact on women of small arms proliferation, Canada’s representative said. For example, the presence of small arms in the home often increased the incidence of domestic violence. Successful disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should also take into account the specific needs of female ex-combatants and their dependents. The security and well-being of child soldiers was another source of concern.
The representative of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict drew delegates’ attention to the special needs of children associated with armed conflicts. Children were often forced or enticed to join armed groups and often suffered serious physical and emotional trauma. The demobilization of child soldiers should be sought at all stages of an armed conflict and their protection and rehabilitation should be integrated into all peace negotiations and agreements. Child-specific programmes should be organized within existing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes for adults. An integrated community approach would be helpful, as would special attention to the needs of girls.
A representative of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations said disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes had been a part of peacekeeping efforts for 15 years now. Experience showed that “three legs of the DDR stool” included firm commitments by the parties themselves; clear policies and structures that would bring various parts of the United Nations system together; and adequate funding. Several speakers insisted that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should be funded from the regular United Nations budget, because efforts to finance them through voluntary contributions had often proven unsuccessful.
The representative of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) appealed to delegations to address not only traditional groups of male combatants but also female combatants and children in the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. There was a need for more training for women and men to increase capacity in implementing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, as well as to encourage women’s leadership and participation in peace negotiations and in the reintegration process. A community participatory planning approach was essential in that effort. To end the cycle of war, it was necessary to address whatever made communities resilient to armed conflict. Early intervention could help to ensure that the children of former child soldiers did not themselves take up arms in the future.
Delegations then addressed their various concerns relating to reintegration programmes. The representative of Indiasaid that while it may be necessary to take into account the special needs of men and women in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, all former combatants must be taken from the margins and brought into the mainstream of social, political and economic structures. The best disarmament, demobilization and reintegration results were from areas where ex-combatants had been successfully co-opted into local governing structures.
Sierra Leone’s representative posed questions regarding when reintegration should begin and to what extent it should be integrated with development. Reintegration should be as comprehensive as possible and must be reconsidered in terms of scope and content, as well as in terms of practical manifestation.
The representative of Japan said that other factors to consider included the need for the promotion of democratization and the restoration of security. There was a need to care not only for the demobilized soldiers, but also for refugees and inhabitants of post-conflict areas. It was also important to consider psychological aspects in order better to help soldiers integrate back into civilian life.
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