Beyond violence and toward development: Visions of Hope

18 Jul 2012

imageThe Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development is the subject of a lakeside exhibition in Geneva this summer.  Photo by Adam Rogers /UNDP.

UNDP and the Secretariat of the Geneva Declaration on armed violence and development present an outdoor photo exhibition along the Geneva lakefront

Geneva, Switzerland -- Pain turns to hope.  Shame turns to pride.  An international photography exhibition, demonstrating the links between violence and poverty, opened today in Geneva; bringing together members of civil society organizations, ambassadors and diplomatic representatives, the United Nations, academia, and the general public.

The exhibition of 100 panels along the Geneva lakefront highlights the aims and accomplishments of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, a high-level diplomatic initiative designed to support states and civil society actors to achieve measurable reductions in the global burden of armed violence in conflict and non-conflict settings. The Declaration was first adopted in 2006 and now carries the signatures of 112 countries.

"They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Tonight, the photographs speak for themselves and can communicate a strong message without words," said Ambassador Alexander Fasel, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the Conference on Disarmament, at the opening reception.

“At least 42 million people, equivalent to the population of Canada or Poland, have been displaced as a result of conflict, violence, or human rights abuses,” said Cecile Molinier Director of the Geneva Office of the United Nations Development Programme.  “Not one of us could develop a sustainable livelihood under these conditions.  This means we must step up, monitor, and evaluate armed violence prevention programmes through sustained action at all levels.”

Luigi De Martino, Coordinator of the Geneva Declaration Secretariat, said more than half a million people lose their lives violently each year, with only one in ten of these deaths occurring in conflict settings. “A quarter of this number is concentrated in 14 countries,” he said. “seven of which are Latin American states.  The impacts, however, reach far beyond the people whose lives are lost, affecting entire communities, keeping them mired in poverty.”

Speaking on behalf of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, UN Under-Secretary-General and Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, David A. Chikvaidze, President of the Cultural Activities Committee, which co-sponsored the exhibition, said the Geneva Declaration was one important step in a long line of efforts which have solidified the city’s place as the world’s disarmament capital. “The Declaration was an important display of political will,” he said. “It is my hope that similar political will can be found to unblock the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, whose credibility and future is at stake. It is my hope that political will can lead to a robust Arms Trade Treaty. It is my sincere hope that political will can be found for the people in these photographs and the countless others killed and injured each year by armed violence.”

The lakeside exhibition will remain in place until the end of August, during Geneva’s festival season. City authorities estimate more than a million people will be see it.

Contact Information

Adam Rogers, UNDP: adam.rogers@undp.org or tel: +41 22 917 85 41        

Luigi De Martino, Geneva Declaration:  luigi.demartino@genevadeclaration.org  or tel: + 41 22 908 57 85