UN Programme of Action on Small Arms & Light Weapons - Gender References as Discussions on Draft Document Begin

By Melina Lito, Global Action to Prevent War and Jasmin Nario-Galace, IANSA Women’s Network 


30 August 2012 - 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.”


Several delegations took the floor to express support for its inclusion, including those of Norway, Mexico, Nigeria, Chile, Belize, Switzerland, Peru, Austria, New Zealand, Japan, and Germany. Only Cuba dissented, arguing that the final document should not include elements that are not prevalent in the UNPoA. Cuba noted that the links to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) should not be included in the final document because it does not relate to the original commitments made in 2001. 


In keeping with its statement yesterday, Mexico supported the inclusion of gender perspective as well as the link between the PoA and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and UN General Assembly Resolution 65/69.  


Switzerland and Nigeria both recognized and supported the gender perspective in the final document, with Switzerland welcoming the inclusion of women’s participation and representation in small arms policy-making while Nigeria also supported the incorporation of gender and recognized the impact that armed conflict has on women and children.  Austria also supported the inclusion of a gender reference in the final document, especially a reference on the role of women.  


States such as Mexico, Germany, and Nigeria also stated that the draft document should make an explicit reference to children and the impact that armed conflict can have on the latter.


So far, we note that 27 delegations have made references to women. Truly, the link between sexual violence and the arms trade indicates a need to highlight the prohibition of violence against women as well as their participation in the implementation of the UN PoA.


As discussions move forward on the inclusion of gender language in the final document that will outline the next cycle, we hope that the references to women and children be kept separate, as each group has a different level of participation in policy-making and is impacted in different ways by armed conflict and illicit flow of arms.