Building Back Better: Lessons from 2020

Susi Snyder, PAX

For more than a year the world has been faced with the life-shattering effects of the worst pandemic to strike the planet in over a century. Millions of lives have been lost, the global economy upended, and communities shattered. Nevertheless, the crisis has revealed a real resilience, the triumph of human dignity, and a dedication to building a society safe for all. 

To mark a year since the pandemic forced a pause in many of our operations and efforts, a survey was circulated to humanitarian disarmament practitioners in March 2021. The goal was to provide a better understanding of the impacts of the pandemic on this specific community of practice and the ways in which the community has adopted and adapted its work.

The results of the survey and a summary of its findings are available in Lockdown Diplomacy: Reflections and Recommendations from a Humanitarian Disarmament Survey.

The survey generated reflections on 2020 as well as recommendations for moving forward. While respondents missed the connection that comes from face-to-face interactions, many seized the opportunity to attend events they would not normally have joined. The majority of respondents said that virtual and hybrid meetings increased the diversity of participants and recommended that diplomacy retain an online component in the future. They stressed, however, that participation must be meaningful and inclusive.  

The survey also illuminated and reinforced a set of principles for how we move towards the next phase of global work while striving for equity, access, transparency, and care. 

The report’s summary elaborates on these findings and concludes with questions, particularly related to travel and inclusion, that it encourages states, civil society campaigns, implementation support units, and others to address as the new normal is created. 

The survey and report were prepared by the informal Humanitarian Disarmament and COVID-19 working group: Susi Snyder, PAX; Bonnie Docherty, Harvard Law School’s Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative; Camilo Serna and Natalia Morales Campillo, Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas; Jeff Abramson, Forum on Arms Trade; Chris Loughran, The HALO Trust; Alma Taslidžan Al-Osta, Humanity & Inclusion; and Erin Hunt, Mines Action Canada.

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