Disappointing Draft Dampens Quaker Spirits
Friday 30th June
The President’s new Outcome Document released on Tuesday evening set the tone for the rest of the week. This much shorter text is disappointing in the narrower approach it takes to the Small Arms issue. The better understanding of the significant connections between security, development, humanitarian concerns and human rights arrived at over the past five years is far less explicitly acknowledged in this new text, with references to cross-cutting themes being deleted even from the preamble. This Outcome Document forms the basis of negotiations between now and July 7, and has set a lower standard for the Conference outcome than initially hoped for. Members of the QUNO delegation were involved in the efforts of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) to develop a quick response to this text and suggest alternative language. For more details see www.iansa.org
Despite these developments, NGO activities have continued apace. A side event on Wednesday drew attention to the perspective of survivors of small arms violence through moving testimonies. The panel focused on the need to support assistance to survivors with the UN framework. The American Friends Service Committee sponsored a panel on Thursday that brought many organizations working in the New York/New Jersey area together with visiting international NGOs to discuss approaches to address issues around youth and gun violence. QUNO facilitated the IANSA event on Thursday that dealt with the need to mainstream small arms work into development programming, and the side event provided perspectives from the international, national, and community levels from many regions of the world.
This morning, Friday, NGOs had the opportunity to participate in the main conference. Sixteen IANSA members spoke on behalf of the network about the five IANSA priority areas: transfer controls, development, survivor assistance, national firearms legislation, and follow-up mechanisms. The personal stories of those directly affected by gun violence provided a strong reminder of why we are all here. Transcripts of all of the statements made this morning can be found at www.un.org/events/smallarms2006
We’ll leave you with Rukia Subow and Nadira Mallick’s thoughts on the Review Conference:
“Before we came to this Conference we had expectations that issues related to the manufacture and transfers of small arms would be considered as the most important priorities, but unfortunately the status of these issues is unclear. The recognition of the multidimensional nature of the illicit trade in all its aspects has been deleted in the new Outcome Document. However, may states have recognized civil society contributions to these issues.
It is important also to mention that, despite the lack of access to the main conference hall [NGOs are not allowed in the room while negotiations are taking place], many countries have included NGOs on their government delegations. This has given civil society the ability to keep up to speed with the process and made appropriate lobbying possible.
We have had opportunities to meet with delegations from various countries and share our views.
The large number of NGOs present has made it possible to learn from each other which will ultimately help us to review our own activities back home. We have also been able to collect materials from the conference which will provide additional knowledge and enable us to expand on our own activities.
We take this opportunity to thank the Quakers for the chance to be part of their delegation and we are proud to be part of the Quaker family. We remain hopeful that the conference will end with a positive commitment from states to control small arms and ensure a secure and peaceful world for all.”
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