High level government leaders are gathering in New York for the UN Sustainable Development Summit on 25–27 September, where they will adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which follows on from the largely unrealised Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000.
The 2030 Agenda commits governments “to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence.” It declares: “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.” Yet despite this emphasis on peace and freedom from violence, the Agenda only includes one goal related to weapons - to significantly reduce illicit arms flows by 2030 (goal 16.4).
While weapons are considered to be men’s business, men and adolescent boys are the most frequent direct victims of weaponised violence. Viewed through the patriarchal lens, this is rarely presented as evidence of their weakness, as is the case when 'women and children' are characterised as victims of violence. The ground-breaking aspect of SCR 1325 was its recognition that men and women experience wars differently and that women are not just victims but agents of change: women’s full and equal participation in all aspects and stages of peace processes is essential to building sustainable peace.
The arms trade, the use of explosive weapons, the possession of nuclear weapons, gender perspectives in disarmament, and equitable participation of women are all crucial issues to grapple with in order to effectively deal with the major security challenges we face today. The next two months at the UN provide an opportunity to take up these challenges with renewed resolve.