FEEDBACK – 5th Humanitarian Disarmament Forum: Faster, higher, stronger!

Posted by: on Oct 17, 2016 | No Comments

On October 15-16, more than a hundred representatives of civil society organisations and campaigns gathered in New York for the Annual Humanitarian Disarmament Forum 2016.

This year Handicap International was very happy to co-host the Forum with International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Mine Action Canada, at PACE University. The objective of this year’s forum was to share and learn from each other on how to enhance the effectiveness of disarmament campaigning, under the theme “Higher, Faster, Stronger”.

The first day, Handicap International was very happy to hear all campaign leaders highlighting the successes.

It was an opportunity to share with our colleagues the progresses of the international process towards a political declaration to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It was also extremely instructive to discuss the challenges ahead of us to protect civilians against the impact of weapons, and finding overlap on our different works to hold States accountable to international humanitarian law, follow-up the implementation of treaties and bring forward new issues for humanitarian disarmament.

We also had the chance to hear from diplomats, who gave us very useful insights on how civil society is performing in the disarmament sector and how we can be more influential. States representatives were very appreciative of our coordination efforts, through global coalitions, as well as of our research and social media engagement. They called for more engagement of NGOs with small developing States on this issue to bring disarmament higher on their agenda.

Work in small groups was very rich and diverse, and left us with many core messages and good practices to try out, namely on:

  • How to effectively stigmatize weapons and use compelling messaging,
  • How to target tricky countries and challenge their policies,
  • How to be creative in the way we implement and use research, namely for story-telling, facts & figures, collaboration & partnership.

Handicap International contributed by sharing how the organisation uses solid & reliable evidence for more effective advocacy.

But the core of our contribution was to promote the importance of working with survivors and affected communities on disarmament topics.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We facilitated a very appreciated panel on the integrated approach to victim assistance. The panel was presented by Anne Héry, director of advocacy, Handicap International. And the organisation ensured the participation of Yousef E’layan, program coordinator of the Jordan mission, and two disability advocates of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Jésus Martinez, President of the National Council for integral attention for persons with disabilities of El Salvador (CONAIPD) and a landmine survivor, and Magaret Arach Orech, Director of the Uganda Landmine Survivor’s Association and a landmine survivor.

They shared the stories of explosive weapons victims, their journeys of survival and how they have been empowered to become advocates. Handicap International presented its work and messages on how to ensure the needs of victims are being met on the long term, both through specific victim assistance efforts, implemented in a non-discriminatory way, and through broader development frameworks, including the 2030 agenda, human rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The second day, we had the privilege of starting with a talk by Andrew Feinstein, former South African Member of Parliament, disarmament activist and film-maker.

He presented the movie Shadow World, denouncing corruption within the international arms trade. It was indeed inspiring to hear him stress the importance of legal actions, petition and other forms of involvement with public opinion.

This talk was the kick-start of a day of cross-campaign discussions and work on core issues to broaden our perspectives and find supporters outside of the sector. We exchanged on the way disarmament campaigns could create space for marginalized voices and learn from the advocacy successes of other campaigning communities (namely disability organisations, LGBT movements, indigenous peoples’ movements). Participants also discussed good practices on how to engage the media, faith groups and youth.

We will of course keep you inform on the result and follow up of these brainstorming sessions!