Zagreb, 17 September, 2011 – Making the case that armed violence is both a cause and a consequence of underdevelopment, and that as such, governments must take active steps to prevent and reduce armed violence in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development (http://www.genevadeclaration.org/) has now been endorsed by 160 countries, including 21 of the 27 member countries of the European Union. As part of its advocacy and awareness raising activities, the Geneva Declaration has organised, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), seminars to capture regional perspectives on this global phenomenon. The conclusions of these sessions which will be shared at the Second Ministerial Review meeting, to be held in Geneva end of October, 2011.
The European Forum was invited to take part in the Regional Seminar on “Best Practices in Reducing Armed Violence in Europe” held 13-14 September 2011 in Zagreb, in Croatia. The event was co-hosted by the Government of Croatia and UNDP and brought together stakeholders from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania. Government representatives and civil society organisations presented their perspectives on community policing, safer community plans, strategies to address the tools of armed violence, as well as the gender dimensions of violence. A report of the conference will soon be available.
We shared our experience as a network of cities supporting local action in a broad range of fields, including but not limited to armed violence. Of particular interest was the fact that partnership-based coalitions who lead urban security policies at a local level, which exist widely throughout the EU27, also have been created in the region, notably with 160 crime prevention councils to date in Croatia, and 120 in Serbia.
Efus will collaborate with UNDP Croatia and the Croatian Ministry of Interior to ensure links are made between these local initiatives and some of their European counterparts. Promising topics of common interest could be safety perception surveys, community involvement, risky behaviours including binge-drinking, integration of minorities, and public-private partnerships.
As one participant noted, discussing the prevention and reduction of armed violence in a context of very low homicide rates is an opportunity to highlight good practices that can be of interest to other parts of the world. Given its very recent history of conflict and successful transition to peace and democracy, the Balkans region has valuable insights and lessons to share, even though everyday violence remains a real area of concern to citizens, and therefore a challenge for policymakers.