On 21 October 2016, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) held a side event in the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to commemorate the 30th anniversary of UNODA’s Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament. Thirty years ago, the General Assembly established the three Regional Centres in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Centres support Members States in their initiatives on disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.
Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Kim Won-soo, presented a brief overview of the achievements of the three Regional Centres and thanked Ms. Mélanie Régimbal, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), Ms. Olatokunbo Ige, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) and Mr. Yuriy Kryvonos, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) for their good cooperation and support. Furthermore, Mr. Kim thanked donor countries for their kind contributions over the years and invited the panelists to address the linkage between peace and security and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
H.E. Mr. Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica, highlighted that the Member States of the United Nations currently focus on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Ambassador pointed out that the worldwide attention for sustainable development should be utilized to raise awareness of disarmament and non-proliferation issues. Ambassador Rattray described disarmament as a conflict prevention measure for developing countries. Moreover, he stressed that the Regional Centres help to create a secure environment and function as bridge builders for the UN and the Member States.
Ms. Simone Monasebian, Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Office (UNODC) in New York, presented UNODCs latest study on firearms and underlined that the SDGs can only be achieved if UN-agencies work closely together. The cooperation should also focus on the realization of the targets of Goal 16, which is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
Ms. Mélanie Régimbal, Director of UNLIREC, stressed that the Regional Centres aim to reduce the volume of illicit weaponry and explosives, to train personnel, and to provide them with internationally accepted standards and technical guidelines. Ms. Régimbal further stated that the Centres support States in their efforts to lower homicide rates; increase the number of confiscations and illicit weapons seizures; and safeguard the good governance of institutions. She informed the audience that the SDGs cannot be achieved without the active participation of the citizens themselves. Therefore, Ms. Régimbal emphasized that the Centres have reached over 400,000 children and adolescents through disarmament and non-proliferation education activities.
Mr. Baffour Dokyi Amoa, Chair of the International Advisory Council of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), underscored the importance of strengthening the rule of law and the promotion of human rights, in order to achieve sustainable development. Mr. Amoa stressed that Member States, Governments and civil society organizations share a collective responsibility to foster gender dimensions in the field of disarmament. In addition, he indicated that women and men are differently affected by armed conflict and that women have played a strong leadership role in many parts of the world in small arms and light weapons control.
Text by Julia Bhattacharjee