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IPPNW Health Panel at ATT Prepcom, United Nations

July 12, 2011

Dr. Robert Mtonga (left) panel moderator and IPPNW Co-president, and Peter Herby, Head, Arms Unit, Legal Division, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during IPPNW's side panel at the Arms Trade Treaty.

July 11, United Nations, New York City –– IPPNW organized and presented a panel of distinguished speakers to address “Implementing a Robust ATT: The Role of Health, Development, Women” at a side event to the 3rd PrepCom for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at the United Nations in New York City. The panel was sponsored by the Mission of Zambia to the UN and was very well received by a standing room only crowd of over 75 attendees that included state delegates including a member of the US delegation, NGOs and representatives of UN and other agencies.

The session was led off by IPPNW’s co-president Robert Mtonga MD from Zambia, who also serves as Medical Director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) Public Health Network, and is on the official Zambian delegation for the PrepCom. He set the stage by explaining that the goal of the forum was to provide practical suggestions on how to help support the implementation of a humanitarian-based ATT, with a special emphasis on how public health will both benefit from, and can contribute to, its success.

First speaker Eric Berman, Managing Director of the Small Arms Survey, a leading research institute based at the University of Geneva, described how observatories on armed violence, located in countries around the world, can play a role in helping to reduce armed violence. He underscored the importance of investing development dollars in these sentinel facilities which collect data from a wide variety of sources including the medical community, the police and development agencies.

Berman was followed by Peter Herby, head of the Arms Unit, Legal Division, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Mr. Herby opened with the statement that firearms are the only product designed to damage health, and that health professionals have an important role in advocating for armed violence prevention as well as monitoring and reporting on it. He provided a preview of a new two-and-one-half year ICRC study Health Care in Danger, which collected data on violent incidents involving health care at hospitals, health care facilities, medical transports, and involving health care personnel in 16 countries including Somalia, DR Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was followed by Dr. Jasmin Nario-Galace, a professor of peace studies at Miriam College in the Philippines representing the IANSA Women’s Network, who outlined eight specific ways that women can actively participate in implementing a humanitarian ATT. These range from participating in the formulation of dispute settlement procedures to acting as watchdogs (or “watchcats”!) to help make sure that the criteria laid out in this agreement are complied with, to participating in demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers.

Donald Mellman MD, an IPPNW member and neurosurgeon from Florida, returned to the public health message to address how the medical community can work in public/public and public/private partnerships to prevent armed violence and create more peaceful communities, using methodologies and models that have been successful in preventing infectious disease and providing clean water and sanitation. He closed with the words of Thomas Carlyle, which he said are as true for the state, and indeed the globe, as for the individual: “He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.”

The crowd was very engaged and stayed on to participate in an animated question and answer session with the panelists which went well beyond the official ending time.

  1. July 15, 2011 5:11 am

    Great Work guys, all the best

  2. July 12, 2011 1:59 pm

    Congratulations on organizing such a novel and informative panel discussion!

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