the friend online
28 November 2008


Geneva Declaration success - preview

Following a landmark resolution passed unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly last week, Oliver Robertson looks at the steps that were taken to get there

The resolution itself might not look like much
  • Only two small paragraphs of the two-page document ask for things to be done to help prevent and reduce armed violence through development
  • But symbolically it is a major step forward, providing what one diplomat calls ‘global legitimacy’ to a process that has been steadily building for two years

  • A lead player has been the Swiss government, which helped initiate and guide the process known as the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development
  • Set up in 2006 around the time of the failed UN Review Conference on Small Arms (likened by one participant to ‘a head-on train wreck’), the Geneva Declaration was a way of talking about armed violence away from the heavily politicised environment of small arms
  • It looks at the links between armed violence and development of all kinds, recognising the links between poverty, social exclusion and violence
  • This violence, which can manifest itself in war and in criminal violence on the streets, has major and negative effects on people’s lives and livelihoods
  • In an attempt to move beyond mere aspiration, the Geneva Declaration process provides examples of projects to help with people’s economic and social development, make them feel safer and encourage them to move away from using violence

  • Oliver Robertson

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