Doctors and parliamentarians connect the dots between health, development at UN panel
The theme connecting the dots between health, human security and sustainable development resonated throughout yesterday’s side event to the Sixth Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action (PoA BMS6) on Small Arms co-organized by IPPNW. The panel, featuring doctors and parliamentarians, was hosted by the Swedish Mission to the United Nations and co-convened with the Stockholm-based Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PFSALW). How health professionals and parliamentarians can work together to reduce armed violence and advance the PoA and the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 16 on reducing all forms of violence, was the starting point for the conversations.
Swedish Ambassador Paul Beijer introduced the discussion by describing the clear link between security and development issues, and the importance of Agenda 2030 as a new door to working on a broader agenda on armed violence prevention. PFSALW Secretary General Karin Olofsson moderated and described the scope of the worldwide gun violence problem and the power of parliamentarians joining with health professionals on this issue. Dr. Shannon Gearhart, a leader of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) New York, underscored how we must not forget the health and human dimensions of gun violence, using examples from her public health work and IPPNW’s One Bullet Story of a gunshot survivor from Nepal.
Uruguay Senator, and the country’s first woman Minister of the Interior, Hon. Daisy Tourne emphasized the need to “break the cycle of fear and violence” and focus on solving conflicts through political dialogues. Swedish parliamentarian Hon. Maria Andersson Willner said we must seize the momentum of Agenda 2030 Global Goals to connect security, development and health.
Dr. Bill Durston, president of PSR Sacramento, described the success of doctors from the Soviet Union and the US in convincing policymakers in the 1980’s that there could be no medical response to nuclear war, and how we need to model that type of approach to address the worldwide public health crisis of firearm violence. He underscored the need to look beyond the PoA to the broader global view.
A robust discussion on connecting the dots at many levels of society ensued among panelists and participants, including State’s delegates to the PoA, UN agency representatives, and civil society. “Fear can grow in societies where people mistrust institutions,” said an Austrian parliamentarian. “We need to create a climate without fear and more trust in our institutions.”
The BMS6 is taking place June 6-10th at UN headquarters in New York. The purpose is to review the implementation of the PoA that was passed in 2001, with an eye toward the 2018 Review Conference.