From 6-8 April, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal hosted an in-country training on Gender-Mainstreaming Small Arms Control and Contribution to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, as part of the EU-funded global project on gender mainstreaming small arms control. The three-day training brought together small arms and light weapons (SALW) control and gender experts to interact with parliamentarians, government officials from key ministries as well as civil society representatives from Nepal.
The training was opened by the Joint-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Sewa Lamsal, who connected virtually. She reiterated the government’s commitment to promoting the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) and the importance of synchronizing its implementation with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, as well as the government’s efforts towards the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Next, virtual remarks were provided by Ms. Soo Hyun Kim, acting Director of UNRCPD, and Ms. Sama Shrestha, Women, Peace and Security Programme Specialist at UN Women Nepal, who attended the event in Nagarkot. Both speakers highlighted the relevance of the training and commended the government for its continuous support to UNRCPD and cooperation on implementing the full breadth of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.
The subsequent thematic sessions covered various topics pertaining to the gender dimensions of SALW control. Ms. Frida Thomassen and Ms. Ji Yeon Rho of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, and Ms. Ida Scarpino of UNRCPD spoke about the role of gender analysis and collecting sex- and age-disaggregated data in small arms control, the linkages between gender-based violence (GBV) and small arms, and the need to align these issues and related initiatives to address them with the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Nepal. Representatives from UN agencies in Nepal, civil society, government officials and parliamentarians continued to address these topics from a national perspective. For example, Ms. Sharada Chalise, Section Officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs, provided a thorough overview of the National Action Plan (NAP) on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820 Phase II and its four pillars (Participation, Security and Prevention, Relief and Recovery, and Capacity Development, Resource Management and Monitoring and Evaluation), and the NAP validation and implementation process.
Mr. Paul Ianovici, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) went on to explore gender and SALW control at the operational level, sharing UNODC’s work on gender mainstreaming in countering illicit firearms trafficking in the region. He highlighted that illicit trafficking impacts the lives of women, girls, man and boys in different ways. In addition, he said, women and men play different roles in illicit trafficking, based on gender related norms and expectations . Finally, Deputy Superintendent Rajani Thapa, of the Nepalese Armed Police Force (APF) presented the APF’s gender strategy, as well as best practices and lessons learned with regard to promoting gender equality and gender equity in the security and defence sector.
The ensuing panel discussion between civil society representatives, government officials and UN agencies further explored the role of civic engagement, women’s participation and youth engagement in gender responsive SALW control.
The presentations and panel discussions were followed by practical exercises, allowing participants to translate global concepts, measures, and guidelines to the national context in Nepal. The exercises also served to identify gaps and opportunities to take the agenda on gender and small arms control forward. Some of the major issues that participants identified were a lack of sex-and-age disaggregated data on SALW; the need to harmonize the legal framework on preventing gender-based violence with that of SALW control and regulation; and the need to establish a national coordination mechanism on SALW control.
Participants also engaged in an exercise on the online reporting template of the PoA in the lead up to the Eight Biennial Meeting of States (BMS8) on the implementation of the PoA, scheduled for the last week of June 2022. The exercise served to remind government officials of the importance of reporting under the PoA as a mechanism to encourage transparency and information exchange and build capacity for data collection, monitoring and evaluation, and analysis. National reports are also tools to identify trends, challenges, needs and opportunities for international assistance and cooperation with regard to the implementation of the PoA.
On the last day, participants analysed the different pillars and initiatives of the Women, Peace and Security National Action Plan, drafting specific action points to integrate small arms control measures into the NAP’s implementation phase.
The closing ceremony saw the participation of Mr. Adrian Morrice, Peace and Development Advisor for the UN Resident Coordinator Office, and Mr. Stéphane Maicon, Deputy Head of Delegation for the European Union Delegation to Nepal. Calling the workshop “ground-breaking” in putting disarmament at the forefront of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, Mr. Morrice said that the training was an opportunity to enhance UN agencies’ coordination on implementing SDG 16 and 5. Mr. Maicon noted the timely nature and value of the workshop in enhancing coordination amongst different ministries and promoting gender-responsive small arms control and underlined the importance of the compliance with global instruments on SALW control and Nepal´s accession to the Arms Trade Treaty.
 Represented ministries included Customs, Defence, Education, Science & Technology, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs, Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, and Women, Children & Senior Citizens. Represented security forces included Army and Armed Police Force, Nepal. Represented civil society organizations included 1325 Action Group, Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal, and Media Advocacy Group.