Community security and armed violence reduction

 Promoting human rights and gender equality in the police force.Promoting human rights and gender equality in the police force (Somalia). Photo: Tobin Jones/UN.

High levels of armed violence and insecurity continue to inhibit development in many contexts. Even in the absence of conflict, high levels of violent crime have a destructive impact. The absence of safety in these contexts can perpetuate a lack of trust amongst individuals, communities and the state, and people are unable to invest their time or resources to improve prospects for the future. This can affect economic growth and investment, and absorb government resources, which could otherwise be spent in other areas of development.

UNDP works with governments and communities to identify the causes of and implement solutions that address violence and insecurity. UNDP also works with authorities to improve the quality of security services and curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. An important component of this work is supporting the professionalization of security actors such as the police, strengthening the accountability of authorities, and enhancing respect for human rights within the security sector.

At the national level, UNDP supports increased security by:

•        Assisting national governments to strengthen the delivery of security and policing services that are professional and accessible to the population;

•        Improving leadership development, decision-making, and strategic planning capacities;

•        Strengthening civilian oversight mechanisms to promote accountability and transparency; and,

•        Enhancing the ability of governance structures to effectively manage security institutions.

At the community level, UNDP utilizes a community security approach to involve local authorities, communities and individuals to identify both the causes of the insecurity faced, as well as possible solutions to improve safety. UNDP also assists efforts to establish effective police-community relations to enhance security for, trust from and protection of populations, especially women. This includes a focus on strengthening police capacities to adopt community-oriented and gender-sensitive policing.

In many cases, UNDP’s efforts to curb the proliferation and availability of small arms and light weapons utilize tools such as the International Small Arms Control Standards (UNDP is part of the UN Coordinating Action on Small Arms). Through the Global Focal Point arrangement, UNDP works closely with UNPOL, UNODC and other UN system actors on armed violence reduction. Also, UNDP maintains important partnerships with key actors such as the Secretariat for the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development and the Violence Prevention Alliance, a WHO-led network of international agencies and civil society organizations working to prevent violence and promote multi-sectoral cooperation.

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