Argentina's disarmament program wins UN award
New York, 4 November 2013 - The National Programme for the Voluntary Surrender of Firearms in Argentina won the silver award at the 2013 Future Policy Award for sustainable disarmament. Promoted by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the World Future Council and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the awards ceremony was held at the end of October, during Disarmament Week, at the UN headquarters in New York.
The overall winner was the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco). New Zealand's Nuclear-Free Zone, Arms Control, and Disarmament Act also received the silver award. In addition, four disarmament policies of Belgium, Costa Rica, Mongolia and Mozambique/South Africa were recognized as honorable mentions.
The Argentine program for the voluntary surrender of firearms went into effect in 2007, with the goal of decreasing gun violence by raising social awareness. Since its implementation, about 250,000 firearms and more than one million units of ammunition have been destroyed. The program is based on the voluntary and anonymous surrender of a firearm, in exchange for a financial incentive, at fixed and mobile collection centers around the country. Additionally, the programme also encompasses activities to raise awareness about the risks of keeping a firearm at home, promoting a culture of peace in which State and civil society work together.
During the awards ceremony in New York, Argentina's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Julio Alak, noted that "people must part with firearms to avoid that interpersonal conflicts have fatal consequences". He also recalled that "in Argentina, 65% of intentional homicides do not occur during the commission of other crimes, such as a robbery, but as a result of disputes between people who know each other, such as family, friends or neighbors".
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) maintains in Argentina the coordination of its Global Firearms Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean, which assists governments in the implementation of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their parts and components and ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
*With information from Argentina's Ministry of Justice and Human Rights