New report on unequal representation at multilateral disarmament forums

Lower income countries are less likely to attend, speak at or hold formal roles in multilateral meetings on disarmament and weapons issues. Where they do attend, they field smaller delegations than richer countries with an equal right to participate. These countries are also less likely to be members of treaties or forums addressing weapons and disarmament, or to meet their reporting obligations under these instruments. Civil society from developing countries is also significantly marginalised in these processes.

underrep states graphAcross the board, women are significantly underrepresented in multilateral disarmament forums, making up less than a quarter of country delegates, leading around a fifth of country delegations at meetings, and giving less than a fifth of statements on average. Women are also underrepresented amongst civil society.

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This new report looks at these and other patterns of marginalisation at international forums, using data from the international meetings between 2010 and 2014 of thirteen multilateral processes. It examines the significance of unequal representation at multilateral disarmament forums. It explores how this issue can be situated within broader agendas linking disarmament and development, the current state of which are analysed. It also looks at how some of the key patterns in participation in the data may be explained and addressed.

Patterns of marginalisation must be confronted in order to achieve inclusive and productive multilateral processes, including through reframing key issues in disarmament to address a wider range of interests. Mechanisms to address underrepresentation should include initiatives to equalise participation, build capacity and raise the visibility of underrepresentation. This report examines measures and approaches to achieve these goals.

This report is the result of Article 36’s project to map and analyse patterns in state and civil society participation at multilateral forums addressing a range of disarmament and weapons issues, using quantitative data and interviews with a range of individuals involved in the multilateral processes studied.  All publications from this project can be found here.

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Disarmament, development and patterns of marginalisation in international forums

April 2016


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Explore all the publications from this project here

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