Geneva Forum

A Joint Initiative of:
Quaker United Nations Office, Geneva
United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
Centre on Conflict, Development and Peace building of the Graduate Institute


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Forwarding progress towards a more secure world

The Geneva Forum is the brainchild of the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO), the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), and the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (CCDP). Its overarching objective is to progress towards a more secure world by facilitating dialogue and research dissemination on disarmament, arms control, peace and security.

The Geneva Forum is a unique partnership between a non-governmental organization, an autonomous institute within the United Nations an research organization, each of which is engaged in its own right in research, policy and advocacy on issues related to multilateral security and disarmament. These organizations pool their extensive knowledge, skills and networks for their common work within the framework of the Geneva Forum, working together in the pursuit of four core objectives:

  1. Sensitizing disarmament practitioners to new and emerging security issues and at building agendas around them;
  2. Facilitating implementation of disarmament and arms control agreements;
  3. Contributing to disarmament and arms control negotiations;
  4. Enhancing dialogue and communication between the disarmament, development, human rights, humanitarian, and public health communities.

In carrying out this work, the Geneva Forum interacts with government missions to the United Nations in Geneva, UN bodies, international and regional organizations, NGOs and think tanks. The Geneva Forum also strives to build bridges across the varied communities present and active in Geneva, most notably those engaged in areas relating to disarmament and arms control, human rights and international humanitarian law, and development.

Latest events:

First Training Course on Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty  6-10 October 2014

From 6 to 10 October 2014, the ATT Network, a joint initiative of the GCSP and the Geneva Forum, organised a pilot professional training course for government officials from countries that had signed or ratified the Arms Trade Treaty(ATT). This course, held at the GCSP premises, was made possible by funding from the Swiss Confederation and Australian Aid.

Some 23 officials (and one private participant) from 18 countries participated in the course, representing several continents: Africa (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania); Europe (Greece, Latvia, Switzerland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey); Latin America and the Caribbean (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Jamaica, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago); and the Middle East (United Arab Emirates).

Through presentations and exercises run by governmental and non-governmental experts, the participants focused on the main elements of the ATT: history and goals, scope, transfer controls, prohibited transfers, risk assessment, gender-based violence, import controls, transit, trans-shipment and brokering, international assistance and cooperation, fight against diversion, information exchange, record-keeping, and. reporting.

They heard about the experience of other regimes and organizations such as the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, the European Union, and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

With a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, they examined the importance of international humanitarian law and human rights law in assessing transfers of conventional arms. With experts from non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International,Reaching Critical Will,and Conflict Armament Research, they learned about the useful role that civil society can play in contributing to responsible arms transfers and fighting illicit arms trafficking.

A new edition of this course for French-speaking countries will be held at the GCSP from 8 to 12 December 2014.

Options for an ATT Secretariat: A Preliminary Exchange of Views -  27 August 2014

The ATT Network hosted an informal discussion designed to contribute to preparations for the first Conference of the States Parties of the Arms Trade Treaty, which will have to take important decisions on the role, size, composition, and financing of the Treaty Secretariat, to be established according to art. 18. 

The discussion was opened by a presentation of a background paper authored by Dr. David Atwood (Independent Consultant), which outlines the role of the future ATT Secretariat, its possible structure, institutional set-up, funding and other governance issues including accountability to the States Parties. The paper specifically examines the extent to which existing Implementation Support Units of disarmament treaties based in Geneva could serve as useful precedents and sources of lessons learned for the future ATT Secretariat. The paper also considers lessons learned from other treaty-based bodies that may be relevant for the future ATT Secretariat, outside the field of disarmament and arms control. You can find more information on this event and a copy of Dr. Atwood's paper here.

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