Effective Weapons and Ammunition Management in a Changing DDR Context
The destabilizing accumulation, illicit transfer and misuse of conventional weapons and ammunition continue to initiate, sustain and exacerbate armed conflict. In addition, poorly-controlled weaponry and ammunition are impeding sustainable development and negatively impacting humanitarian assistance. As a result, weapons and ammunition management (WAM) is becoming an increasingly critical tool of the United Nations to address these issues. In 2016, DPO and ODA launched a joint initiative to promote the sustained and systematic integration of arms control policy and practices into the United Nations’ work on peace and security, including through peace operations and in non-mission settings.
The joint DPO-ODA project aims to enhance the UN’s capacity to design and implement state-of-the-art WAM initiatives as part of integrated DDR processes. It provides expert resources and guidance, training and technical assistance to support DDR practitioners in the design and implementation of tailored WAM activities linked to DDR, including Community Violence Reduction, in line with the highest international arms control standards and guidelines. These activities can be implemented to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict. WAM in DDR processes aims to effectively reduce the capacity of individuals and groups to engage in armed violence and to address the risks stemming from illicit circulation and misuse of weapons, ammunition and explosives.
The joint DPO-ODA project serves to assist conflict-affected and post-conflict States to develop and implement sustainable solutions and national frameworks, in accordance with the relevant global and regional arms control instruments, to eradicate, prevent and prosecute the illicit possession, proliferation and misuse of weapons and ammunition. As such, the project contributes to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, most notably Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and its Target 16.4 to significantly reduce illicit arms flows.
As part of the project, DPO and ODA have established a joint Technical Assistance Mechanism. Under this mechanism, Technical Assessment Missions (TAM) can be deployed, composed of WAM and DDR experts from across the UN and external partner organizations, to provide recommendations on WAM at the strategic, policy and technical level and to identify potential WAM activities as part of DDR processes. With the financial support from Germany, DPO-ODA deployed the first TAM to Haiti in August 2019 in support of the transition from a peacekeeping operation to a special political mission, the Integrated United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). The TAM demonstrated the value of a holistic and coherent, joined-up approach on CVR/DDR and WAM and led to the formulation of concrete recommendations, including the development of a national arms control framework in line with existing standards and guidelines. As a result of the TAM, follow-up activities were developed, facilitating new partnerships between BINUH and UNDP with relevant UN entities with WAM expertise. Within the framework of the Peacebuilding Fund’s DDR project in Haiti, and at the request of the Government, follow-up activities include support from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) to the revision of a comprehensive national firearms law. UNLIREC will also support the development of a WAM national action plan in line with the CARICOM Firearms Roadmap, as well as provide technical assistance in its implementation. Additionally, a WAM baseline assessment and an arms and ammunition profiling and typology study are planned in 2021 to be conducted by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).
The establishment of a comprehensive national WAM framework in accordance with relevant instruments, standards and guidelines will ensure a coordinated and sustainable response to address illicit arms and ammunition trafficking as well as the effective implementation of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap, contributing to the achievement of Agenda 2030 and a safer Caribbean region. In terms of concrete outputs to date, UNLIREC in collaboration with UNDP and BINUH undertook a comparative legal study of the existing national arms control framework. Relevant UN entities, line ministers and senior government officials were subsequently presented with the findings and recommendations in two back-to-back virtual workshops held in September 2020. As a result, the Government formed an inter-ministerial taskforce to implement the findings of the review of the draft law on firearms to align it with regional and international arms control instruments.
The DPO-ODA project and its activities in Haiti pioneer an effective “whole-of-UN” approach, ensuring systematic integration of arms control policy into the UN’s work on peace and security, including through peace operations, with a view to effectively address the threat of weapons and ammunition. There was a continuous need for sensitization of the national authorities on existing international and regional frameworks applicable in Haiti. The Technical Assistance Mechanism allows for flexible interventions and can support with the mobilization of additional expertise and financial resources as well as in the facilitation of partnerships.
The development of a national WAM framework in Haiti, including the adoption of a law on firearms, in line with international and regional arms control instruments, as well as a National Action Plan for the implementation of the CARICOM Firearms Roadmap and the establishment of an inter-institutional mechanism will form the institutional basis for effectively and sustainably addressing illicit arms flows in Haiti. This will be complemented with technical assistance and capacity-building of national authorities for the implementation of the national framework. DPO-ODA are working on replicating technical and policy support on WAM in DDR settings in other contexts beyond Haiti. This includes remote support such as provision of studies on weapons and ammunition dynamics to identify lessons learned from past WAM initiatives and priority areas of intervention. Potential support under the Technical Assistance Mechanism also includes tailored training for UN staff and national authorities.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, activities in follow-up of the 2019 Technical Assessment Mission were adapted to be undertaken in a remote and virtual format. BINUH and UNDP facilitated the organization of hybrid meetings during which effective legal assistance from UNLIREC was provided by UNLIREC to the national authorities for the establishment of a WAM regulatory framework. With regards to the second workstream, UNIDIR is monitoring the situation with regards to COVID-related travel restrictions to assess the feasibility of the WAM baseline assessment to be conducted in the second quarter of 2021.
SDGS & Targets
Deliverables & Timeline
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The DPO-ODA project provides support to UN staff and national authorities in mission and non-mission settings in the design and implementation of tailored weapons and ammunition management (WAM) activities linked to DDR and Community Violence Reduction.