Although NGOs have a long history in the peace and disarmament movements - international 'peace societies' have been active since the nineteenth century - in the past few years NGOs and the wider civil society movement have 'stepped into the spotlight' in international fora. The fact that three disarmament-related NGOs have received Nobel Peace Prizes in recent years testifies to their influence and relevance today.

A combination of recent developments - from the civil society fuelled push for a global mine ban convention, to the growing, diverse community concerned about small arms, to the words of the UN Secretary-General welcoming the participation of civil society as partners rather than spectators - all beg closer examination. What are the special assets that NGOs can contribute? How open is the field of disarmament and arms control to NGOs? Is NGO participation valued? Are there areas where increased cooperation would be useful? What lessons can be learned from recent NGO/civil society partnerships? Are NGOs being under-utilized?

With this issue of Disarmament Forum, we have only scratched the surface of this topic. We had hoped to include other voices in this issue - the voice of NGO funders, NGOs from developing countries, governments supportive of NGO work, etc. UNIDIR has a long tradition of working in partnership with NGOs and we look forward to publishing future articles on NGO contributions to disarmament and arms control.

Citation: Kerstin Vignard (ed.) (2001). "Disarmament Forum: NGOs as Partners: Assessing the Impact, Recognizing the Potential", UNIDIR, Geneva.

Disponible aussi en français.


  • Editor’s note, Kerstin Vignard
  • Special Comment, Steffen Kongstad
  • NGOs and disarmament: views from the coal face, David C. Atwood
  • NGO access to multilateral fora: does disarmament lag behind? Simon Carroll
  • NGO perspectives: NGOs and the Security Council, Felicity Hill
  • NGO perspectives: NGOs at Geneva negotiations, Jenni Rissanen
  • NGO perspectives: NGOs and the small arms issue, Peter Batchelor
  • The United nations and civil society, Merav Datan
  • A braver new world? A.H. Rees
  • South Asian cooperation in Antarctica, Gaurav Rajen
  • UNIDIR Activities