Activities during the second phase of the Arms Down! Campaign for Shared Security demonstrate the continued commitment of Religions for Peace youth to advocate for disarmament and a more peaceful world. The message of the Arms Down! Campaign petition was communicated to those countries with the highest recorded levels of military expenditure during a global e-advocacy action. This second phase has also seen the revitalization of our youth network in North America, which is ready to join its counterparts in other regions of the world. In Africa, Europe, and Latin America, youth are planning a wide range of activities in the coming months that will educate and equip their networks to become better advocates. In addition, Religions for Peace is intending a large-scale mobilization for a robust and ethical Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which has always been an important objective of the Arms Down! Campaign. Youth will undoubtedly play an important role in this.
Global | Regional | Africa | Asia | Europe | Latin America & The Caribbean | North America | More
Global Day of Action on Military Spending – April 12th
Religions for Peace organized a global e-advocacy action to mark the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Building on the message of its Arms Down! Campaign for Shared Security, Religions for Peace invited its networks to send letters to the Heads of State of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council – the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France and the Russian Federation – asking them to cut their military spending by 10% and re-allocate those funds to development. People from more than 30 countries participated in the action. Additionally, a statement was released by Dr. Mustafa Ali, Secretary General of the African Council of Religious Leaders.
Meeting with Regional Centre for Small Arms (Date: April 7th)
A networking meeting was held at the Regional Centre for Small Arms (RECSA) offices in Nairobi between the African Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace and RECSA. The meeting formed a partnership between ACRL and RECSA, and allowed both parties to discuss and address the challenges caused by small arms and light weapons in Africa. During the meeting, the Arms Down! Campaign was presented to RESCA staff, as well as the long-term SALW program by ACRL-RfP. Future collaborations between ACRL, RfP, and RESCA are in the initial stage of planning.
Action on Military Spending (Date: May – June 2011)
In the framework of the Arms Down! Campaign, the Religions for Peace African Interfaith Youth Network in Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda will engage in various activities to raise awareness about military spending, including:
– Meetings with the local members of parliament to discuss the need for a decrease in military expenditure.
– Presenting the Arms Down! Petition to government officials.
– Launching local events and campaigns to educate citizens about the need to decrease military expenditure.
– Organizing a town-procession with banners, t-shirts and ‘peace songs’ to gain media and public attention about the need for a decrease in military spending.
– Guest speaking on local radio stations about military spending.
– Participating in student dialogue forums on military spending.
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence (Date: 13-19 June 2011)
The Religions for Peace African Interfaith Youth Network will participate in disarmament efforts, advocacy campaigns, and other actions that address gun violence, and also engage religious communities in a multi-level and long-term approach to address issues of SALW in the border regions of selected countries. The Arms Down! Campaign will be featured throughout the activities.
Regional Visit and Work-Camp: East and Central Africa Religious Youth Leaders (Date: August 2011)
In the framework of the Arms Down! Campaign, Religions for Peace African Interfaith Youth Network will organize a 5-day practical training session with the aim of addressing SALW (Small Arms and Light Weapons) and the wider challenge of DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration) in the region. At least three religious youth leaders from the youth networks or NIRCs in each of the following Eastern African countries will be invited: Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Uganda. Participating youth leaders will gain a deeper understanding of the challenge of SALW proliferation and misuse and effective approaches to address the issue.
Building of Arms Down! Partnerships at Youth Leaders Forum in Laos. (Date: 6 -13 November 2010)
From 6 – 13 November 2010, members of Religions for Peace Global Interfaith Youth Network participated in Mines Action Canada’s Youth Leaders Forum; a forum that brings together youth involved in ‘mine action’ around the world to share experiences and build capacity. The forum was held in Laos during the First Meeting of State Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Youth members met with a large community of employees of International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC) and presented the Arms Down! Campaign. Since the forum, participants have become actively involved with the Arms Down! Campaign. Additionally, members of the Campaign have worked with regional ICBL and CMC staff to advocate for the global elimination of landmines and cluster munitions.
Arms Down! Meetings and Trainings at 2011 European Interfaith Youth Network Summit (Date: TBD)
In partnership with Members of the Religions for Peace European Interfaith Youth Network, campaigners will come together at the EIYN Summit to receive trainings on disarmament issues and will discuss and plan further Arms Down! activities.
Disarmament Art Contest (Date: TBD)
To raise awareness about disarmament issues in Europe, a regional contest will be launched, inviting youth to submit artistic and multimedia creations that address disarmament issues. Awards will be given to those chosen as the top submissions.
Arms Down! and an interfaith training on spiritual contributions to peaceful dialogue (Date: TBD)
In partnership with Pax Christi, Religions for Peace European Interfaith Youth Network will organize an interfaith training on spiritual contributions to peaceful dialogue. The training will incorporate the Arms Down! Campaign and will educate attendees on disarmament issues.
A representative of the Latin American Interfaith Youth Network undertook advocacy with the government of Honduras in March to discuss ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Honduras signed the Convention when it opened for signature in 2008 but has been unable to ratify it because of domestic political difficulties. The youth met with two representatives of Congress raise the level of priority for this issue, indicating that it may help Honduras regain some international credibility within the region and the OAS specifically. The universalization of this Convention is an objective of the Arms Down! Campaign under its second goal.
Creation of Regional Arms Down! Resource Guide on Gun Violence in Latin America (Date: TBD)
To further spread the message of the Arms Down! Campaign and deepen the commitment of national Religions for Peace affiliates to the Campaign, Religions for Peace Latin American and Caribbean Youth Network will develop a resource guide, which will be used by Arms Down! campaigners to educate students about disarmament issues and gun violence in Latin America.
Update of Latin America Interfaith Youth Network Website (Date: TBD)
The Religions for Peace Latin American and Caribbean Youth Network will develop and update their website to include Arms Down! resources and information. The website will be an important reference for religious organizations and youth and adult leaders who are engaged in the Arms Down! Campaign.
North American Interfaith Youth Network Retreat (April 15-17)
16 religious young adults convened in Stony Point, New York for a retreat to equip them with the skills and knowledge to shape and advance the Religions for Peace Arms Down! Campaign in the United States and Canada. The participants were educated on disarmament issues by Ms. Allison Pytlak, Religions for Peace Disarmament Program Coordinator; a United Nations Representative of Mayors for Peace; and Mr. Zach Hudson, Coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines. Ms. Pytlak focused on military spending, UN Representative of Mayors for Peace presented on nuclear weapons, and Mr. Hudson provided an overview of landmines and cluster munitions. Participants also developed and signed advocacy letters calling for accession to and ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions by the United States and Canada. These letters will be sent to President Obama and Prime Minister Harper.
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES (Date: TBD)
Participants of the NAIYN Retreat will formulate and implement Arms Down! activities in North America.
Newark Peace Education Summit (Date: May 13th -15th)
Arms Down! will be presented at the Newark Peace Education Summit taking place in Newark, New Jersey. Ms. Allison Pytlak, Religions for Peace Disarmament Program Coordinator, will participate in a workshop led by H.E. Ana Teresa Dengo, Costa Rica Disarmament Ambassador. The Newark Peace Education Summit is a three day conference focusing on peacemaking practices from around the world. It features panels and workshops with His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Somaly Mam, Nobel Laureates and peace advocates from a wide cross section of cultures, disciplines and perspectives.
Signatures are still being collected on the Arms Down! petition! The latest signature count can be viewed at www.armsdown.net.
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION
The Arms Down! draft UN General Assembly resolution – which mirrors the calls of the petition – is still available at the www.armsdown.net website as an advocacy tool. Youth are encouraged to approach their governments with this petition and request that they table it during the forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly.
ARMS DOWN! CAMPAIGN VIDEO
The overall Arms Down! video, presenting all the work accomplished from the beginning of the campaign until the closing of its 1st phase, was released in January 2011 and is now available on our website at http://www.armsdown.net/.
To view other Arms Down! videos in multiple languages visit http://www.armsdown.net/tv/
ARMS DOWN! RESOURCES
Resources for the Arms Down! Campaign have been updated, including the Campaign Concept and Petition, to reflect the newest data and figures released by SIPRI in its 2010 yearbook. These resources can be viewed at http://www.armsdown.net/arms-down-tool-box .