07.06.2006 - Press release
Governments Agree to Armed Violence Reduction Measures To Improve Human Development Prospects
"Living free from the threat of armed violence is a precondition for human development,” according to the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, adopted today."
Recognizing that armed violence can undermine human development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, 42 governments at a high-level ministerial summit in Geneva have agreed to new commitments to address issues of armed violence and development. These commitments, contained in the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development adopted today, are designed “to promote sustainable security and a culture of peace by taking action to reduce armed violence and its negative impact on socio-economic and human development.”
The ministers and representatives of 42 governments formally adopted the Geneva Declaration at the conclusion of the summit hosted by the government of Switzerland and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
According to the declaration, a development approach to armed violence is needed because armed violence “destroys lives and livelihoods, breeds insecurity, fear and terror, and has a profoundly negative impact on human development. Whether in situations of conflict or crime, armed violence imposes enormous costs on states, communities and individuals.”
Both Switzerland and UNDP hailed today’s declaration as a significant step in the long-term process of creating more sustainable security and sustainable development in the world’s poorest nations.
At the opening of the summit, H.E. Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and Vice-President of the Swiss Federal Council, stated that: “ On the strength of its commitment to fight illicit trafficking in small arms and on the basis of its long experience in the field of development cooperation, Switzerland has come to the conclusion that it is essential to link more closely the issues of armed violence and development. If we are to have a chance of achieving the MDGs, we have to take an active interest in combating the illicit trade in small arms.” She added: “ The Geneva Declaration on armed violence and development, which we adopt this afternoon, clearly states our objective: Reduce armed violence by 2015.”
Kathleen Cravero, Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, said: “UNDP is proud to have co-hosted this ministerial summit, and fully supports the Geneva Declaration. We stand ready to assist governments to implement the commitments that they have made with innovative programming, technical expertise and resources designed to promote sustainable security and human development.”
As a concrete follow up to the 2005 World Summit, the Geneva Declaration is the most comprehensive multilateral commitment to date on the linkages between armed violence and human development. The Declaration, which states that “living free from the threat of armed violence is a basic human need” and “a precondition for human development, dignity and well-being”, will have important implications for both development policy and programming.
The Geneva Declaration contains a range of commitments, in which States agree to:
- strengthen efforts to integrate armed violence reduction and conflict prevention programmes into national, regional and multilateral development frameworks, institutions and strategies, as well as into humanitarian assistance, emergency, and crisis management initiatives;
- promote conflict prevention, resolution and reconciliation, and support post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction;
- stem the proliferation, illegal trafficking and misuse of small arms and light weapons and ammunition, and lead to effective weapons reduction, post-conflict disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and small arms control including control of arms transfers and of illicit brokering;
- uphold full respect for human rights, promote the peaceful settlement of conflicts based on justice and the rule of law, and address a climate of impunity;
- foster effective and accountable public security institutions;
- promote a comprehensive approach to armed violence reduction issues recognizing the different situations, needs and resources of men and women, boys and girls, as reflected in the provisions of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1612; and
- ensure that armed violence prevention and reduction initiatives target specific risk factors and groups, and are linked to programmes providing non-violent alternative livelihoods for individuals and communities.
The declaration was presented at today’s summit by Ambassador Walter Fust, Director General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Endorsing governments include states from every region of the world, with additional endorsers expected in the weeks and months ahead. While the agreement is not legally binding, it demonstrates strong political will to bring positive, lasting change to the lives of millions of people affected by armed violence, many of whom live in countries ranking at the bottom of global human development indices.
The Geneva Declaration is poised to make significant contributions to the global policy dialogue on armed violence prevention and reduction and to the further integration of security and development agendas. It will be a key reference document later this month when the UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects convenes in New York (26 June-7 July).
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