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United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is the single most important set of multilateral institutions working to improve global security and promote social progress. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015, has at its core a commitment to peaceful, just and inclusive societies. The UN and its various bodies, agencies and funds will play a key role in supporting countries to meet this and other global goals over the next 15 years.

Saferworld works with partners in UN offices and agencies in New York and at the regional and country levels on a variety of initiatives. Our efforts over the years have contributed to the implementation of the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the establishment of the UN Peacebuilding Commission in 2005, the inclusion of peace and security commitments in the Accra Agenda for Action on aid effectiveness in 2008, the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the General Assembly in 2013, and the inclusion of peace and justice within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015.

Arms Trade Treaty

On 24 December 2014, a global Arms Trade Treaty entered into force and became international law.  As a member of the Control Arms coalition, Saferworld has been at the forefront of civil society efforts to bring this historic agreement to fruition since it was first proposed in 1996. We continue to support progressive interpretation and full implementation of the treaty by all States Parties through the establishment of the informal Expert Group on ATT Implementation (EGAI) – a forum for governments and civil society experts to develop common understandings around Treaty implementation – as well as running a project that assists states in identifying their implementation requirements and assistance needs. This will help ensure that the Conference of States Parties can fulfil its mandate and put an end to arms transfers that fuel conflict and destroy lives.

International development and peacebuilding

In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was officially adopted by the largest-ever gathering of heads of state at the UN. The framework, which builds on the progress achieved through the Millennium Development Goals, sets out universal goals and targets to guide global development and poverty reduction efforts over the next 15 years. Saferworld worked to ensure that Goal 16 on peace, justice and governance was included within the 2030 Agenda and that peace was seen as a cross-cutting pre-requisite for the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals – for example for Goal 5 on gender or Goal 10 on inequality.

Now that the 2030 Agenda is in place, our work focuses on ensuring that these commitments on peace are translated into action. We work with supportive member states, UN agencies and civil society partners and networks to generate political buy-in and prioritisation of Goal 16 at both national and international levels. Part of this effort has involved participation in the SDG16 Data Initiative – a website that tracks progress toward the achievement of Goal 16 using a range of data sources.

We also work to refine the indicators used to measure progress, by engaging with the Inter-Agency and Expert Group – the group responsible for creating and agreeing on the indicators. In addition, we co-chair the Praia Group on governance statistics, a body set up by the UN Statistical Commission to agree on methodologies for gathering data for these indicators.

Gender, peace and security

The UN has been the birthplace of several important agreements on gender, peace and security issues, including the Beijing Platform for Action (1995), UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and its six sister resolutions (1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106 and 2122), as well as article 30 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Saferworld’s work on gender, peace and security seeks to further the implementation of these commitments at national level in both conflict-affected countries and donor states. For example, Saferworld has contributed to the development and implementation of national action plans on UNSCR 1325 in Nepal and the UK. Our programming in the MENA region has also sought to advance the UN’s objectives to increase women’s participation in decision-making on peace and security issues and improve their security and safety.

UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons

We encourage states to effectively implement the Programme of Action, which is the primary international framework for the control of small arms and light weapons. In 2012, we advised on the production of the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) by providing feedback on the small arms and light weapons component.

This work has been supported by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organisation that acts as a forum for its 193 member states to work together to maintain international peace and security as well as advocate for social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The Security Council is one of the principal organs of the UN, where states – dominated by the veto-wielding permanent members including China, the US, Russia, the UK and France – meet to discuss issues concerning global peace and security. The General Assembly, which is open to all states, also provides a forum for debate and decision-making on a range of peace, security and development issues.

Peace and the 2030 Agenda

At a high-level summit in September 2015, UN member states adopted the new global development framework, titled the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. This framework (formerly referred to as ‘post-2015’) sets out universal goals and targets to guide sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts over the next 15 years.

Arms Trade Treaty

On 24 December 2014, a global Arms Trade Treaty entered into force and became international law following its adoption at the UN General Assembly in 2013. This represents an historic achievement that will help ensure weapons do not end up in the hands of those who fuel conflict, undermine development and abuse human rights and humanitarian law. States now need to focus on progressive interpretation of the treaty and its effective implementation.

UN Programme of Action

The UN Programme of Action (PoA) on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, was agreed in 2001 and remains the primary international agreement on the control of small arms and light weapons. It sets out a range of measures that help states take control of small arms transfers, regulate small arms brokering, manage stockpiles, and mark and trace small arms. However, much remains to be done to encourage states to carry out their commitments in full.