Norway and UNDP stepping up to stop armed violence

Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Every day, armed violence kills more than 2000 people. The vast majority are civilians.  Backed by Norway, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) is stepping up to support affected governments in their efforts to reduce the demand for arms by developing comprehensive Armed Violence Prevention Programmes, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced today.

“The international fight against armed violence has not received the attention such a  huge humanitarian challenge deserves. We succeeded in our fight against landmines and cluster munitions. Now our next target is armed violence,” says Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre.

Globally, the economic losses caused by non-conflict and criminal violence have been estimated to be as high as USD 163 billion per year. This is no less than a global crisis, which is affecting the lives and security of hundreds of thousands of people and threatening international peace and security.

“The challenge is to analyze how armed violence evolves in a given country and support he local authorities in addressing the root causes of the problem,” says Helen Clark, Head of UNDP.

Armed violence is the fourth leading cause of death among persons between the ages of 15 and 44 worldwide. However, casualties are not the only problem related to armed violence. The threat of violence prevents children from going to school, keeps marketplaces from functioning and puts a burden on already scarce resources in the health sector.

“It is evident that in many countries, there is a need to strengthen the justice sector. A first step is to get control of illegal weapons and address impunity. In order for this to happen, we need global coordination and local action. The same approach was used when we worked on the ban on cluster munitions, and working with UNDP, we believe we can also fight armed violence effectively,” says Mr Støre.

“Together we will work to build a framework for practical action – between governments, international organizations, and civil society – aimed at achieving measurable reductions in the global burden of armed violence by 2015,” Clark said.

It is estimated that there are between 600 and 875 million small arms and light weapons in circulation worldwide, of which some 50–60% are believed to be legally held, which means that the number that are illegally held may exceed 400 million.

The economic costs of armed violence are only just beginning to be quantified, but estimates suggest that war-related violence in non-conflict settings decreases the annual growth of an economy by around 2% per year on average.

Source:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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