IANSA: International Action Network on Small Arms

IANSA logo

Who they are?

  • The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) is a global movement against gun violence that links hundreds of organizations working to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. 

Who does the network consist of?

  • IANSA is an umbrella network that represents over 800 civil society organizations from 120 countries around the world. IANSA local member organizations can be found in Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe.
  • IANSA consists of a broad spectrum of civil society organizations, some operating at the local grassroots level while others operate as large, international, and well-established organisations. The various types of organizations that make up the network include: human right's organizations, youth groups, women’s groups, development organizations, humanitarian agencies, faith-based groups, community action networks, peace and conflict prevention organizations, public health organizations, and research institutes.

How did they start?

  • IANSA has been the official coordinator of civil society organisations in the UN process on small arms since the first official conference in 2001 regarding the illicit trade in small arms. A year later, they were incorporated as a company in the United Kingdom and set-up a home office in London.

Where do they operate now?

  • While IANSA closed their London office in 2015, they continue to maintain an active liaison office at the United Nations in New York. They maintain Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in addition to maintaining registration as an NGO in Ghana since 2014.

What do they do?

  • IANSA supports efforts to make people safer by reducing demand for such weapons, improving firearm regulation and strengthening controls on arms transfers. Through research, advocacy and campaigning, IANSA members are promoting local, national, regional and global measures to strengthen human security. They also provide various resources on their website such as briefing papers, reports, UN Conference documents and videos to support civil society organizations, government officials, journalists, students and individuals in their work on issues related to small arms and light weapons.

IANSA has done a lot of work with the UN, what did that entail? 

  • Back in 2001, IANSA was one of the leaders of the the 2001 United Nations "Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms" which produced a "Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects", the first of its kind. Since its adoption by the UN General Assembly that year, IANSA has participated in three international conferences and six Biennial Meetings of States to review the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA). These gatherings have been highly productive as they allow member states to present the advancements that they have made in implementing the PoA as well as further elaborating and strengthening some aspects of the PoA which were not originally included nor sufficiently clear. At the second Biennial Meeting of States in 2005, they fulfilled one of key the commitments governments made in the PoA when they adopted the International Tracing Instrument (ITI). This politically binding instrument requires member states to ensure that weapons are properly marked and that records are kept.
  • IANSA is also a part of the Control Arms Campaign which seeks to promote an international treaty regulating the conventional arms trade called the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). A resolution to begin work on this Arms Trade Treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly in 2006. The completed treaty was ratified by the necessary number of member states and entered into force in December of 2014.
  • IANSA is currently funded through a UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR) grant

What about the work IANSA does at the grassroots level?

  • In addition to the assistance they provide at the UN-level in regards to policy development and implementation, IANSA also participates numerous grassroots campaigns throughout the year that aim to raise awareness and support to halt the proliferation of small weapons and gun violence.  Some of the annual campaigns that IANSA directs include:
    • Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence: The Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence (WoA) is an opportunity to advocate collectively for an end to the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. Some of the actions carried out during the week include holding seminars and press conferences, meeting with government officials, organizing marches, working with youth and educators, and other strategies to further engage the community in regards to promoting the prevention of gun violence. 
    • Gun Free Valentine: The Gun Free Valentine campaign raises awareness of intimate partner violence, the increased risks to women of a gun in the home, and how laws can be used to save lives. The campaign typically begins on Valentine's Day and ends three weeks later on International Women's Day
    • Wear Orange Against Gun Violence: The Wear Orange campaign honors the memory of those who have lost their lives and calls for a future free of gun violence. The campaign began in a US city in 2013, quickly spread throughout the country. While IANSA did not start the Wear Orange campaign, it greatly helped in the push to make the campaign a global initiative.
    • International Gun Destruction Day: In conjunction with Small Arms Destruction Day, this campaign seeks to remind our governments of the importance of small arms destruction as a vital measure to reduce the proliferation and misuse of small arms.
    • International Youth Day: While the United Nations established International Youth Day in 1999, IANSA’s International Youth Day campaign seeks to shine light on youth involvement in efforts to end gun violence and bring attention to the risks that firearms to youth.
    • Africa Amnesty MonthLaunched in 2017 by the African Union, Africa Amnesty Month provides an opportunity for individuals to voluntarily surrender their illicit small arms and light weapons without fear of punishment during the month of September of every year.  The initiative is part of the African Union’s “Silence the Guns by 2020,” initiative, which aims to end conflict on the African continent. 
    • 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based ViolenceThe 16 Days of Activism campaign calls for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence (GBV) as IANSA’s campaign draws attention to the link between guns and GBV. The campaign begins on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on Human Rights Day.

Where can I learn more about them?

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