31 August 2012

What happened to the “review”? A midway assessment

by Marcus Wilson, International Action Network on Small Arms
We’re nearing the end of the first week of discussions concerning the Second Review Conference of the UNPoA. And despite civil society being closed out of the room for several meetings, it’s clear that the only “review” taking place is that of an outcome document, drafted months ago, and circulated widely. Where is the mandated review of progress made in the implementation of the PoA

Window dressing

by Dr. Robert Zuber | Global Action to Prevent War
The civil society monitoring team is partially writing in 'exile' today as diplomats have decided to close some of the meetings focused on draft text for a final outcome document. After many years and many dozens of Monitors produced, we have become somewhat proficient at 'adding value' to discussions even when we are not physically present. Diplomats have the right to exercise options to keep NGOs from discussions, though most all delegations understand the value of having individuals in the room who can 'read back' and reflect on what has been discussed and decided. Such decisions complicate our work at times, but not always by a lot.

30 August 2012

The Programme of Action on the illicit trade in ‘heavy sticks’

by Daniel Mack, Instituto Sou da Paz 
After the phrase “small arms and light weapons are the real weapons of mass destruction” came into fashion, it seems that the arms control world is on course to establish a new favourite cliché: “guns without bullets are nothing more than heavy sticks”. As it turns out, many clichés happen to also be true—and these two are indisputable. Why, then, does the PoA continue to exclude the very items that allow the illicit trade in SALW to have the negative human consequences the instrument was devised to tackle?

Balancing the old and the new

by Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War

As the discussion moved from general statements to consultations on the revised drafts of the outcome document on Wednesday morning, a central debate emerged related to how to balance reiteration and re-commitment to the “old” language of the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) with infusion of “new” forward-looking language that addresses challenges related to national implementation that introduces concepts and recommendations not explicitly found in the original 2001 document.  Incorporating language in the outcome document that enhances the UNPoA’s implementation is imperative to its continued and strengthened relevance in preventing and reducing armed violence.

Path mark

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War
One of the issues that will come up in the course of discussions on a final outcome document for the UN Programme of Action (PoA) Review Conference has to do with the role that might be played by Meetings of Government Experts (MGE). Many PoA delegates will recall the MGE last year which was presided over quite successfully by Ambassdor McLay of New Zealand. That meeting was one of the more satisfying in my years of experience with disarmament-related events, in part because of its focused discussion, and in part because of the skillful way in which Amb. McLay handled the room. He seemed determined to make the best possible use of the allotted time and vigorously encouraged delegate participation in all aspects of the program. 

Gender references continue as discussions on draft document begin

by Melina Lito, Global Action to Prevent War and Jasmin Nario-Galace, IANSA Women’s Network 
On Wednesday, member states began discussing the draft outcome documents circulated by Ambassador Joy Ogwu, President of the Second Review Conference on the UNPoA. The draft UNPoA Implementation Plan for 2012–2018 specifically calls for women’s involvement in the UNPoA implementation process at the national level. Paragraph 8 reads: “To increase the participation and representation of women in small arms policymaking, taking into account the link between the Programme of Action and Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and GA resolution 65/69 and to explore means to eliminate the negative impact of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons on women.”

29 August 2012

Donor drive

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War

One of the key elements for Programme of Action (PoA) implementation, as has been widely discussed by diplomats, is 'capacity assistance' linking donor and recipient states. The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) has attempted to institutionalize capacity support through the program of “matching needs and resources” through the PoA Implementation Support System (PoA-ISS).

Cause and effect

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

During the general statements segment of the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) Review Conference (RevCon), several member states have drawn attention to pressing issues related to cause and effect relationships related to small arms and light weapons (SALW). Comments have focused primarily on the relationship between supply and demand of SALW as well as between SALW proliferation and armed violence, instability, and development. This RevCon should ensure that the plans of action for further UNPoA implementation incorporate mechanisms for measuring and analyzing the supply and demand of SALW, the effects of proliferation of SALW, and the impact of the UNPoA on the above.

Words matter

by Dr. Natalie Goldring

UN negotiators and observers are accustomed to parsing words carefully. The use of “shall” instead of “should”, for example, is the difference between a potentially robust mandate and a mere suggestion.

Attention to gender continues at the UNPoA Review Conference

by Melina Lito, Global Action to Prevent War
As the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) proceeds to its second day, gender has been one of the recurring themes addressed during the General Exchange of Views. The Netherlands, Norway, Niger, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, Sweden, Argentina, CARICOM, MERCOSUR, the European Union, Kenya, Lithuania, Trinidad and Tobago, Luxemburg, Portugal, Kazakhstan, and the United States, have all referenced gender in their statements.

28 August 2012

Delegations call for gender mainstreaming for the effective implementation of the UNPoA

by Jasmin Nario-Galace, IANSA Women's Network
The first day of the Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) saw many states articulating the impact on women of the illicit trade in SALW. Thirty-five percent (35%) of 34 delegations who took the floor on the first day of the conference called either for gender mainstreaming for the effective implementation  of the UN PoA or voiced concerns in regard to violence committed against women with SALW as weapons of choice.

Aiming for a meaningful outcome document

by Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War

As the Second Review Conference (RevCon) for the UN Programme of Action on small arms (UNPoA) opened on Monday morning, the President of the Conference, Ambassador Ogwu of Nigeria, rightly called upon member states to clearly focus their general debate statements on the “desired outcome” for the conference.

Voluntary associations

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War
Ambassador Ogwu of Nigeria, President of the Review Conference, set the tone for the initial meeting noting that illicit small arms represent an 'enduring problem' with profoundly negative ramifications, most especially for fragile states. The audience of diplomats and NGOs seemed attentive to her urgency. The 'hangover' that some of us feared from the month-long arms trade treaty negotiating conference was not in evidence this morning. This ability to recover and respond anew is worthy of high praise. At the same time, there is a recognition by many delegations that the need is still urgent to dry up and properly dispose of illicit stockpiles, secure borders and harbors, share the highest quality information within a predictable and reliable framework, and create more abundant and transparent streams of capacity support.

27 August 2012

Q: What has the PoA actually achieved on the ground? A: We have no idea

by Daniel Mack, Instituto Sou da Paz 

After more than a decade in existence, the PoA indeed comes to a “crossroads” at the 2012 RevCon, forcing governments to look back and seriously scrutinize the instrument’s (few) achievements and (plentiful) limitations. Also, they cannot squander an irreplaceable opportunity to look forward and act to overcome the PoA’s myriad failures and challenges. Many in civil society and government alike perceive this RevCon as possibly the last chance to avoid condemning the PoA to the ‘dustbin of history’.

Legal eagle

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War
In the period between the unsuccessful conclusion of the arms trade treaty (ATT) negotiating conference and the beginning of this UNPoA Review Conference, there has been much discussion in the halls of the UN about the ‘relative merits’ of what are often seen as related processes.

Going beyond DDR in PoA’s work on post-conflict situations

by Melina Lito, Global Action to Prevent War and Hector Guerra, IANSA
The reference to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) within the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) (Sections II.21, II.22, II.30, II.34, II.35, and III.16) is relevant and shows the possibilities this instrument has in dealing with post-conflict situations in relation to small arms and light weapons (SALW).

Reviewing, strengthening, and energizing the UNPoA

by Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War
As member states gather for the second Review Conference for the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (UNPoA), a potentially contentious policy gap remains between those who emphasize only the implementation of the UNPoA and those who seek to strengthen the instrument itself. Given the importance of implementing the existing agreement, participating UN member states should focus on developing strengthened provisions in this regard, rather than seeking to change the status or authority of the programme itself.