Armed violence destroys lives and livelihoods, breeds insecurity, fear and terror, and has a profoundly negative impact on human development. Aiming at reducing armed violence means addressing the cause, the immediate effects and long-term impact. It is about keeping the communities safer through different prevention and risk reduction activities implemented before a conflict occurs, during a conflict and in a post-conflict context. The Organisation distinguishes two sectors of intervention that can be implemented in any of the context mentioned above. The only difference remains in the methods and tools that will be used to achieve the goal of reducing the impact of armed violence.

The two sectors are the following:

1. Armed violence prevention (AVP): Armed Violence Prevention interventions aim at keeping communities safer from the risk related to arms. It involves changing behaviours and capacity building of individuals to find suitable and safer alternatives to improve their safety and security. It also aims at addressing structural and social root causes by challenging injustices and restoring human relations and it deals with ethical and value-based dimensions.

2. Arms safety management and disposal (ASMD) can be divided in two sub-sectors:

  • Arms safety management (ASM): Effective ASM extends to safe storage, surveillance, transport and disposal. It ensures that all facilities and equipment are safe and secure according to internationally accepted standards. Through a regular inspection program, potentially dangerous ammunition is segregated and disposed of before it can become hazardous.
  • Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD): EOD involves the detection, identification, evaluation, render safe, recovery and disposal (destruction) of explosive remnants of war (ERW). In practice, ERW found during EOD operations comprises of mines (including improvised mines), munitions and sub-munitions, projectiles and mortar bombs, hand and rifle grenades, guided missiles, rockets, and aircraft bombs.

The relevance and impact of our action depend on a common understanding of our final objective; this practical guide addresses the need expressed for a better comprehension and appropriation of technical and operational methods of the first sector of intervention in a specific context: the implementation of armed violence prevention activities in emergency and open conflicts.

Handicap International (HI) since its beginning has implemented a multidimensional response to reduce the impact of arms on civilian populations. In light of difficulties faced by civilians during open conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan, amongst others, the organisation deploys a comprehensive response to arms-related issues. When clearance is not yet an option, Armed Violence Prevention activities save lives. They serve as an entry point of a Linking Relief Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD) continuum: planning – taking action – preparing the future.

HI 2016-2025 strategy highlights 3 priority actions:

  • Including people with disabilities and vulnerable populations;
  • Providing inclusive emergency responses adapted to the needs of the population;
  • And reducing the impact of conflicts on civilians.

Emmanuel SAUVAGE

Head of Armed Violence Reduction Technical Unit