9 April 2013 —
The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, in cooperation with the Global Action to Prevent War, launched the publication, “Applying a Disarmament Lens to Gender, Human Rights, Development, Security, Education and Communication: Six Essays,” with a panel discussion at the United Nations on Tuesday 9 April 2013.
The central theme of the event was the cross-cutting nature of disarmament as articulated in the opening remarks of Virginia Gamba, Director and Deputy to the High Representative in the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, which was echoed by the panelists as they addressed their particular areas of expertise. In her remarks, Ms. Gamba highlighted that disarmament is no longer seen as an isolated, narrowly defined field. She said that, “the world is learning that progress in disarmament—or the lack of it—has enormous implications in many other areas, including social and economic development, the protection of human rights, and in peace-building operations.”
Moderated by Katherine Prizeman, International Coordinator of the Disarmament Program for the NGO, Global Action to Prevent War, the panel consisted of two of the six contributors to the publication: Ray Acheson, Director, Reaching Critical Will of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Sarah Taylor, Executive Director, NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Also on the panel was Rodrigo Pintado from the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations.
The first speaker, Ms. Acheson, highlighted the need for a more integrated approach to disarmament as articulated in her article “Merging Disarmament and Development Priorities” in the publication. She also stressed the great importance of the inclusion of gender-based violence as a legally binding criteria within the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) adopted by an overwhelming majority by the General Assembly on 2 April 2013.
As an advocate for women, peace and security issues, Ms. Taylor focused on the complex gender dimension of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR). She stated that central to this dimension is ensuring that DDR processes are inclusive of women who are involved in and affected by armed conflict in ways that are often not seen or expected.
Mr. Pintado spoke of how the diplomatic community has evolved over the years to recognize the important role civil society plays in disarmament, noting the capacity of civil society organizations to mobilize people as well as governments. He called the recently adopted Arms Trade Treaty a truly “21st Century treaty” noting how civil society groups made use of social media to promote not only the eventual adoption of the treaty, but their eventual impact on its substance.
A lively question and answer session followed the panel discussion demonstrating the significant interest in the nexus of disarmament and other social and economic issues. Questions and comments from the audience echoed issues discussed by the panelists and sought further clarification on good practices in DDR, how to improve the work and coordination within the UN system and praised recent successes of collaborations between civil society and the UN, most notably the ATT. The publication, “Applying a Disarmament Lens to Gender, Human Rights, Development, Security, Education and Communication: Six Essays” and the event launching it, were noted as examples of such a collaboration.
by Sasha Sleiman
- Opening remarks (PDF)
Ms. Virginia Gamba, Deputy to the High Representative for disarmament Affairs