On International Women’s Day, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD), in partnership with the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), hosted an online seminar on gun violence and illicit small arms trafficking from a gender perspective in Asia-Pacific. The event, which was part of a series of virtual and in-person meetings that started in 2018, brought together small arms and light weapons (SALW) arms control experts, parliamentarians, civil society representatives, and gun violence survivors to discuss challenges and opportunities in combatting illicit SALW and their misuse.
Introducing the work of IANSA and UNRCPD in this area were IANSA Director Mr. Ivan Marques and UNRCPD Regional Project Coordinator on Small Arms and Light Weapons Ms. Ida Scarpino. The speakers also announced the new joint publication Reinvigorating Gender-Responsive Small Arms Control in the Wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Asia and the Pacific – abriefing paper that focuses on gender-responsive small arms control in Asia and the Pacific.
Participating parliamentarians from Papua New Guinea and Nepal and civil society representatives from Cambodia, Pakistan and India next engaged in a panel discussion, moderated by UNRCPD Policy and Legal Expert Mr. Deepayan Basu Ray, focusing on the current landscape of SALW and gender-based violence in their respective countries; the socio-cultural implications of SALW; and the specific challenges government entities face in implementing gender-responsive SALW control. The panellists identified key areas that could improve national SALW control, including collecting more comprehensive data on SALW and gender-based violence, creating inclusive networks for education and advocacy work, including in the area of youth engagement, and organising regional workshops for civil society representatives to enhance their international networks.
A second panel, moderated by IANSA representative Ms. Amelie Namuroy, focused on upcoming opportunities for stakeholders. These included UNRCPD’s project to support gun free zones (GFZs) in Asia-Pacific, a three-phase activity which will culminate in the creation of an online course on the Disarmament Education Dashboard. Ms. Monique Hansen and Ms. Mary-Ann Nobele from Gun Free South Africa shared best practices and challenges instituting GFZs in their country.
In closing, Ms. Karin Olofsson, Secretary General at the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PFSALW) presented on her institute’s forthcoming initiatives and overall goals in the region and made recommendations for parliamentarians to better oversee the implementation of SALW controls instruments.
The online seminar was organized as part of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs’ global project on gender and small arms and light weapons, funded by the European Union.
The recording of the webinar is available here.