The nine topics of the nine chapters of the Online Journal for Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence are linked thematically as much as they are complex topics in their own right. The purpose of this side note is two-fold - to first remind us of those interlinkages and then to explore this topic in greater depth to provide greater explanation for the interlinkages.
The Interlinkages ....
In these chapters we have discussed Galtung’s theory of peace and violence and then what happened when the United Nations attempted to implement Galtung’s ideas in conflict zones around the world. Also important were the parallels to the UN Program for a Culture of Peace, and the emerging importance of a movement to scientifically measure peacefulness to provide guidelines for Peacebuilding planning. We discussed the relationship of Peacebuilding to nonviolence - how nonviolence is the core nature of peace, and how the study of Peacebuilding leads to the study of five levels of nonviolent action. We also discussed the important parallels and interrelations of Peacebuilding to individual psychology. Finally we discussed the interrelation and interdependence of lasting peace with lasting development, and the corresponding similarities between peace programs and social and sustainable development programs. Now finally we will discuss the indispensable place of disarmament in Peacebuilding. Weapons by definition are machines of death and destruction, and thus studies show how their presence makes everything worse and even deadly - domestic violence, suicides and even accidents, and are loved and preferred by criminals, extremists and terrorists. Thus their sensible regulation is required in Peacebuilding and peacekeeping. This is a single theory with Peacebuilding at its center - the idea that you must have equality, justice, inclusiveness and strong democratic institutions in order for peace to last - but that has myriads of detailed facets reflecting the diversity of locations and cultures and histories found across the world. The unified theory is explained in our summary document - Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence: Creating Peace that Lasts, while the myriad of details is reflected in our growing body of papers, blogs, videos and expert resources that are linked to in each chapter.
(now greater detail on this topic; excerpted from Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence: Creating Peace that Lasts, by David Kirshbaum….)
Chapter 9. SALW Disarmament
Disarmament is a crucial element of both lasting peace and lasting prosperity because above everything else, weapons are designed with only one purpose - to kill and maim. Statistics show that the mere presence of a gun greatly increases the chances of deadly violence. Economies simply can’t function and grow where there is pervasive gun violence(40,41).
But this does not mean that individuals cannot possess guns. It just means that each stage of the legal life cycle of guns, from manufacturing to destruction, must be carefully monitored(39):
Manufacturing & Registration - registration (technically called ‘marking’) so that legal usage and trade can be tracked which will help law enforcement to regain the guns if they convert to illegal usage and trade.
Tracking legal usage and trade - tracking (technically called ‘tracing’) of legal usage and trade helps law enforcement to regain the guns if they convert to illegal usage and trade.
Conversion to illegal usage and trade - due to theft, illegal sale or just beginning illegal usage; by criminals, armed combatants or terrorists.
Repossession by law enforcement - through reinforcement of laws and gun laws.
Stockpiling - technical and security concerns (to keep stockpiles from exploding, and to keep them from being stolen again by criminals and terrorists).
Destruction - to keep them from being reused. Although some jurisdictions resell guns gotten back from illegal usage.
Recycling - a way for local governments and others to recoup some of their costs by reducing guns to their basic elements and reselling those elements.
Thus regulations and technical guidelines have been developed for each stage of the SALW lifecycle. Many of these regulations and guidelines are found in MOSAIC (the UN Modular Small-Arms Control Implementation Compedium; previously known as the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS))(42).
In addition, the UN has developed an international program of action to guide the regulation of SALW lifecycle across the world(43). It is not legally enforceable but is the centerpiece of cooperation between governments, law enforcement and civil society across the globe guiding regulation of SALW at every stage of its life cycle. It’s name is the UN Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all It’s Aspects. From it has developed numerous global and regional disarmament instruments many of which are legally enforceable(44).
These regulations and guidelines keep people safe and reduce violence and thus are indispensable elements to peacekeeping and peacemaking. And training in nonviolent alternative methods to guns of problem-solving, changing laws regulating the stages of the SALW lifecycle, and transforming gun culture to a culture of peace are indispensable elements of Peacebuilding - building peace that will last.
The UN actually regulates and/or forbids about 8 other weapon systems other than SALW. This also is important to peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. These other weapon systems include: nuclear, bio-chemical, cluster bombs, land mines, conventional weapons, explosive devices in urban areas, weapons in space, weapons run by AI, etc.(45)
The UN agency that supervises all this is the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)(45). It cooperates and coordinates with the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security(46), which supervises the UN Disarmament Commission(47), that conducts research on the latest disarmament issues and makes recommendations. In turn each of the weapon systems have one or more civil society coalitions focused on it and seeks to advocate for its regulation or elimination. The civil society coalition focused on SALW is the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).(48)
To read more articles and watch videos about this topic, check out the nonviolenceny.org/journal.