Our Perspective

      • The end of the line for an insidious weapon of war? | Neil Buhne

        14 Sep 2012

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        Intact cluster bomb at war memorial in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Photo credit: Aaron Hartwell

        I remember first learning of “clusters” when I worked in Pakistan in the early 90s and saw injured Afghan children who had picked one up, losing an arm or their sight in the process. Cluster munitions destroy lives – very often those of children, in too many countries. They have killed thousands of civilians and continue to pose a threat, because they  are typically used in populated areas. According to a recent report, an estimated 94 percent of their victims are civilians and because these weapons are prone to failure they remain hazardous for many years, “efficiently” killing and maiming long after a conflict has ended. Once dropped, unexploded cluster bombs prohibit access to land that could be used for agriculture and development, and they are costly and time consuming to remove. This week, I was in Oslo where states, international organizations, and NGOs came together for the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Norwegians, instrumental in developing the Convention and committed supporters of the cause, were excellent hosts. For me it was one of those times when you see that our work is really worthwhile! The Convention which UNDP helped to draft, aims to Read More

      • New technologies play key role in strengthening democracies | G. Fraser-Moleketi

        14 Sep 2012

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        A bank representative helps customers in Fiji manage their electronic bank accounts. (Photo: Jeff Liew/UNCDF)

        International Day of Democracy this year underlines the crucial role that informed people everywhere can play in realizing the benefits of democracy. The UN Secretary-General has called for focus and creativity in bringing democracy education to all, with special attention to societies in transition where this education is needed most—and where people often have much to learn about their rights and responsibilities under a democratic system.  The call for creativity in pursuing democracy education resonates uniquely at UNDP.  Since the early 1990s, we have harnessed the transformational potential of new information and communications technologies (ICTs) for development, promoting e-governance and access to information with the specific aim of empowering people to influence public decisions. The social movements we saw in the Arab awakening and elsewhere showed just how powerful these technologies can be—especially through social networks and mobile technologies that have “democratized” access to the public sphere and given a voice to people who previously had none. Mobile technologies have, further, seen explosive growth in developing countries, where nearly 80 percent of the world’s more than 6 billion mobile subscribers live. This phenomenon has unleashed a new wave of innovation by social entrepreneurs and civil society organizations, led by young people, Read More

      • As the UN’s small arms review conference ends, what is needed to reduce violence? | Jordan Ryan

        10 Sep 2012

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        A child holds up bullets collected from the ground in Rounyn, North Darfur. (Photo: UNAMID / Albert Gonzalez Farran)

        You don’t have to look far to see the impact of armed violence. Just turn on the news. In New York two weeks ago, shots rang out at the Empire State Building as police were trying to stop someone with an illegal gun in a crowded area. Two people were killed and nine injured. Last year, Mexico saw more than 12,000 drug related murders. There is, on average, one death caused by guns every minute worldwide, and 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by conflict or high levels of violent crime.   This is not only happening in conflict countries; higher death-rates from criminal gun use are recorded in “peaceful” countries. Gun violence destabilizes legitimate governments and exacerbates poverty. For UNDP, armed violence is a development issue.  An international conference to curb the illicit trade in small arms wrapped up in New York on Friday September 7. States attending reviewed the implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, a political commitment among UN Member States.  The conference ended with Mexico, and other affected countries, urging the international community to make a stronger commitment to reducing the worldwide flow of illicit weapons. There remains, however, significant resistance Read More

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