Delegates move from words to action on the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development
Ten-point action plan outcome document adopted by all delegates
Geneva: An international conference to reduce armed violence ended in Geneva today with an acknowledgment of the need for tighter controls on the flow of arms, better monitoring of the arms trade, and a call for a greater integration of armed violence reduction and prevention objectives and actions into regional, national and sub-national development and security plans and programmes.
For two days in Geneva , more than 400 representatives from 80 countries took part in the Second Review Conference of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development. The Declaration was first adopted by 42 states in 2006 at a summit in Geneva, at the initiative of the Swiss government and UNDP. It has now been endorsed by 112 countries, with Guinea, United Arab Emirates and Belgium joining just before the conference opened on 31 October.
More than half of million people lose their lives violently each year, with only one in ten of these deaths occurring in conflict settings, such as war. One quarter of the victims is concentrated in 14 countries, and half of them in Latin American states. The impacts, however, reach far beyond the people whose lives are lost to affect entire communities, keeping them mired in poverty.
“Armed violence jeopardizes development, it stifles economic growth, and it often undermines legitimate governments,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark in her opening address. “It increases the cost of law enforcement and of health care. It imposes economic burdens on countries which can ill afford them.”
In a joint opinion editorial with Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, Clark pointed out that as a result of a number of initiatives around the world, among them the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, countries are increasingly taking steps to tackle conditions which are conducive to armed violence, “whether that is through the provision of better policing, an expansion of access to justice, or the development of education systems which promote inclusion, tolerance and citizenship. “
Martin Dahinden, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), commended the progress and the efforts made by states and civil society in the struggle against armed violence. He stressed how important it was that actors from both security and development policy were jointly developing specific and realistic measures to reduce armed violence. However, he also reminded the delegates at the meeting that the struggle was far from being won: “three thousand people will die violent deaths during the two days of this conference,” he said.
At the end of the two-day meeting, delegates unanimously accepted an outcome document with a ten-point action plan to achieve “measurable reductions in the global burden of armed violence and tangible improvements in development”.
Jordan Ryan, director of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, said in his closing statement that he believes the political will exists to tackled the challenge. “In the last two years,” he said, “the UN, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, scores of local and national governments and hundreds of civil society organizations around the world have helped us become better informed about the complexities of the problems surrounding armed violence and to develop solutions with sound policies and targeted, multi-sectoral programming.”
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