UN Symposium Concludes With New Disarmament Pact

A climate of growing global insecurity risks grave and lasting consequences for humanity unless there is collective international action to address challenges posed by wars, said delegates at the end of the week-long UN Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (known as DDR) Symposium in Geneva.

Conflicts affect 2 billion people worldwide, civilian deaths were up 72% in 2023, and 40% of post-war countries return to civil war within a decade. Peace cannot take hold unless former members of armed forces and groups have opportunities to return to civilian life and rejoin families and communities.

Under the theme of "DDR's Role in Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace", over 80 practitioners, experts and national directors from some of the world's most complex crises met 3-7 June.

Delegates were looking to come up with practical contributions to the Secretary-General's New Agenda for Peace which is a key part of the Summit for the Future in September, led by Member States. Key outcomes of the symposium included the need for coalition building around investment, national and regional leadership, and diplomatic support for DDR in all contexts.

The importance of women in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes was another key concern of delegates. Out of 18 peace agreements in 2022, provisions for women and girls were only included in six. The implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda on DDR has lagged, with decrease in gender responsive actions as well as reporting capacity.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Department of Peace Operations (DPO) co-hosted the event, with the support of the Swiss government. Experts included those from Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Libya, the Philippines and Ukraine, among others. Strategic partners also participated from Germany, Sweden, the European Union, the World Bank, and representatives from the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Training Group (IDDRTG) and the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR).

"Addressing the needs of former combatants, both men and women, at a war's end is a key constituent part to sustainable peace. A key part of this approach must be to ensure that those who have lived through and participated in conflict are not left behind," said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner in a message to participants.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said DDR was integral to peace efforts: "From treating prevention as a political priority, to centering national ownership in any DDR process, to working with robust regional frameworks and organizations, to finding new innovative ways to finance peace, and to ensuring young people have a say in their future and patriarchal power structures are dismantled."

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