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7 Things You Need to Know about the Resolution on Women and Disarmament from UNGA First Committee
an article by Lorey Campese, Control Arms Blog

During the UN General Assembly First Committee, a resolution was adopted this year on the role of women and broader international security. Of 63 resolutions adopted, it was easily the most hotly debated with multiple meetings scheduled nearly every week to negotiate the text of the resolution.

click on photo to enlarge

The resolution achieved substantive progress from previous editions and called for real action. Thatís something you donít always see in resolutions.

Here are 7 things you need know about First Committeeís hottest resolution this year:

1. The rise of a resolution

The General Assembly has seen the Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control resolution before. It was introduced three times in the past four years. But this yearís edition looked much different. It took general and vague language that easily gathered consensus in from 2010-2013 and gave it some teeth. At the United Nations, when you get agreement on anything, itís easy to simply leave it alone and say the same thing year after year. The leaders for this resolution chose a different path and had to use serious diplomacy and hard work to achieve the results. Thatís a small example of how change happens in a system that, at times, appears to be allergic to it.

2. Arms Trade Treaty impact

During informal discussions, one diplomat (that doesnít like the ATT very much) argued that they have a problem with ďany reference to the Arms Trade TreatyĒ in the resolution. Iím sure they know that the ATT is the first piece of international treaty to ever mention gender-based violence. But that historic bit of info takes a back seat to politics from time to time. The ATT was the center of discussion in every consultation on the resolution, but progressive leaders stood firm and ensured that the Arms Trade Treaty had its place in a resolution where it truly belonged. Perhaps even more interesting is that a handful of countries that didnít vote in favor the ATTís adoption a year and a half ago voted to KEEP the reference in this resolution. Countries co- sponsoring the resolution also included some ATT- abstainers such as Bolivia. These small shifts in voting are indicative of progress for the lifesaving treaty.

3. Risk assessments

Not only was there a reference a reference to the ATT, but the resolution also called for ďnational risk assessment criteria to facilitate the prevention of arms to commit violence against women.Ē The translation from legalese to English is as follows: the ATT says that countries have to take into account the risk of weapons being used to commit gender- based violence, before they can authorize a transfer. This resolution encourages countries to develop risk- assessment criteria. A small step, but one thatís important enough to save lives and hold violating governments accountable.

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4. 98 co-sponsors

The resolution was cosponsored by nearly 100 countries. For those counting, thatís more than half of the entire world. A co-sponsorship signals two things: that the government is firmly behind all of the provisions of the resolution AND that they are guaranteed to vote yes on it. Any time you have any action at the UN with half the membership on board, you have to call that a win.

5. Small States, big impact

ATT negotiations showed that you didnít have to be an economic or political powerhouse to change the world. Sure, the US, China, Russia, the UK, and others flexed their muscle, but countries like New Zealand, Iceland, and Costa Rica also showed that everyone has an important role to play when it comes to saving lives. Trinidad and Tobagoís leadership in leveling the playing field for women in disarmament and arms control shows once again that small states can have massive impact at the United Nations.

6. . ...more.

This report was posted on November 12, 2014.