Fostering Gender-Responsive Arms Control: Perspectives from the Eastern European Region

Ahead of the 4th Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action (PoA) and the 10th Conference of State Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and UNDP SEESAC co-hosted an online event to discuss the latest trends in gender-responsive arms control.

The event brought together representatives of UNDP SEESAC, UNIDIR, national institutions and civil society orgnizations across the region.

“There is a growing recognition of the need for governments to fully account for the gender dimension in the implementation of small arms instruments and other relevant global frameworks,” stated Ms. Bojana Balon, Head of UNDP SEESAC. “Whether addressing the demand for firearms, controlling their proliferation, combating their misuse, or reducing their impact on the well-being of our citizens—both women and men—the gender perspective must be thoroughly integrated into every aspect of arms control and policy formulation and implementation,” she added.

Ms. Hana Salama, Researcher at UNIDIR, emphasized the significance of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in addressing gender issues, noting that “the ATT is a crucial tool when considering gender, as it is one of the few treaties with explicit consideration of gender.”

Presenting developments in the South East Europe, Mr. Dragan Božanić, SEESAC Gender and Research Project Analyst highlighted the importance of  cooperation with authorities in the region to move gender from the margins to the center of small arms control policy-making," noted.

Moderated by Ms. Juliana Buzi, Regional Cooperation Specialist at SEESAC, the panel organized within the event  provided a timely opportunity to discuss developments in the Eastern European Region and served as a forum for experts and practitioners to share best practices and discuss challenges in achieving a more gender-responsive SALW control.

Ms. Cordescu, Head of the Conventional Arms Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, emphasized Romania's commitment to integrating gender-based violence considerations into arms export assessments post-CSP 5 and highlighted the legal challenges in denying licenses based on these concerns. Cordescu also called for international cooperation to strengthen arms control efforts under the Arms Trade Treaty.

Mr. Ermin Pešto emphasized Bosnia and Herzegovina's commitment to gender equality within SALW control. "Bosnia and Herzegovina has a comprehensive legal and policy framework for advancing gender equality, especially in the context of SALW control," he stated, highlighting the implementation of multiple action plans, and projects aiming to raise awareness on the use of firearms in domestic violence and enhance gender-responsive firearms licensing.

It's crucial to actively involve civil society in decision-making processes and policy development to ensure that gender perspectives are embedded from the outset." Ms. Beker, Programme Director at Femplatz, stressed. She called for enhanced resources, formal representation at decision-making levels, and increased collaboration across regions, acknowledging the critical role of civil society, especially grassroots women's organizations, in shaping these policies based on their frontline experiences.

In concluding remarks, Ms. Renata Hessmann Dalaqua, Head of the Gender and Disarmament Programme at UNIDIR, highlighted the need for collaboration to raise awareness and develop inclusive strategies that consider the human impact of weapons on affected communities and enhance gender responsiveness of arms control.

To learn more how UNDP SEESAC and UNIDIR are working to foster gender-responsive arms control, please visit SEESAC’s knowledge-exchange platform and UNIDIR’s Gender and Disarmament Programme.

Event Recording