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Regional Review Conference on the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development

Geneva, Switzerland | 8-9 July 2014

Ending armed violence for peace and development


Sustainable development is impossible in the absence of peace and security, and these elements need to be addressed in the framework that will follow on from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), said Yves Rossier, State Secretary of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, at the opening session of the Regional Review Conference on the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development. The Conference, held in Geneva on 8 and 9 July, brought together representatives from across Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia to discuss how to effect measurable reductions in armed violence, and improve development, both in the region and globally.

While these regions enjoy relatively low rates of armed violence generally, and have seen significant measurable reductions since 2004, they do still face a number of challenges. These include:

  • In this region, Southern Europe has the highest share of firearm homicides, with 40% of homicides committed using firearms. In Eastern Europe, the sub-region with the lowest share, 9.2% of homicides involve firearms.
  • The regions together have more than their share of lethal violence against women: while they are home to 16 % of the world population, and around 14% of the world’s female population, their overall rate of lethal violence is less than 10%, yet they account for 16% of female victims. In Europe, women account for 32% of victims of lethal violence, nearly double the global average of 16%. (In Central Asia 24% of victims are women, and 7% in the Caucasus.)

Speaking at the opening session, UN Women Regional Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir emphasized the need for gender issues to be mainstreamed in the security and development agenda, stressing that the erosion of women’s rights was a common thread in the rise of violent extremist movements.

Women and children suffer especially in conflict and post-conflict environments, she said, noting that they make up a disproportionately large number of displaced people as a result of conflicts.

Michael Møller, Acting Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, called for a change in the narrative about security, specifically to include a greater focus on reducing illicit small arms flows, and increasing respect for human rights. The Geneva Declaration, he noted, was a good model of an innovative policy instrument that promoted a more inclusive approach to security and development issues.

The discussions at the Conference highlighted the need for timely, reliable, informative, impartial, and disaggregated data to be used for global and national policies to reduce armed violence. Armed violence is a universal issue and member states need to share the burden of addressing its causes and consequences.