New guide provides information on UN resources in preventing violence

New guide provides information on UN resources in preventing violence

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To help local communities and national governments searching for solutions to prevent everyday violence, the United Nations has pulled together the unique expertise of its lead agencies in a practical, groundbreaking resource guide issued today.

The "Guide to United Nations Resources and Activities for the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence" aims to provide some relief to violence-prevention partners at a time when terrorist attacks and war are getting the lion share of media attention - and resources - while equally significant issues such as youth violence, child and elderly abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual violence and suicides barely register in the public awareness.

“Despite its prevalence, interpersonal violence is largely hidden from media attention, perhaps because much of it takes place in the home and other personal spaces, such as schools and workplaces,” said Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of the UN World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department of Violence and Injuries Prevention (VIP).

The new Guide provides activity profiles and lists the resources of some 14 UN agencies working to prevent interpersonal violence through their specific areas of expertise. It describes the programmes, publications, and databases that make these resources more readily available to prevention partners worldwide. The Guide also highlights the areas of potential synergies; to open crucial lines of communication, the publication provides contact focal points within each agency.

Echoing the 2000 Millennium Declaration's affirmation that men, women and children have the right to live free from violence and fear, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the roots of violence are complex and no single segment of society can address them in isolation. "[Violence] knows no boundaries of geography race, age or income," he says in the publication's foreword. "It strikes children, young people and the elderly, finding its way into the homes schools and workplaces."

The Guide stresses that active collaboration will be the key to the UN's success in this endeavour. While UN agencies are actively engaged in efforts to prevent interpersonal violence, what is lacking in guiding their work is a common strategy and set of messages about the causes and consequences of everyday violence and ways to prevent it. Collaboration should be inclusive, involving not only UN entities but also governments, non-governmental organizations and survivors.

“The United Nations has an enormous amount to offer in terms of knowledge, skills and experience in violence prevention,” Dr. Krug said. “The elaboration of the Guide has already resulted in stronger dialogue across United Nations agencies on this topic and will no doubt facilitate increased collaboration on violence prevention in the years to come.”

Developed as a follow-up to the 2001 meeting on UN Cooperation for the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence, the current guide builds on World Health Organization's (WHO) World Report on Violence and Health, the first comprehensive UN study to address death and disability caused by violent acts. That report focused not only on the scale of the problem, but also covered issues related to the causes of violence and the methods for preventing the problem and reducing its adverse health and social consequences.