Global webinar on public policy and parliamentary action

Disarmament, public health, and pandemics

A participatory webinar on parliamentary action for disarmament to support public health, peace and economic sustainability in relation to pandemic prevention, management and mitigation.

The second of a series of international parliamentary events following the publication of Assuring our Common Future: a parliamentary guide to disarmament for security and sustainable development.

910 November 2021 | Online event

Disarmament, public health, and pandemics

Session A: Timed for Asia/Pacific: 9 November 2021. 7:00-8:30 CET
(This session in English only).
Register for Session A.

Session B: Timed for the Americas/Europe/Africa/Middle East:
10 November 2021. 16.00 – 17:30 CET

(This session will have simultaneous interpretation in English, French and Spanish).
Register for Session B.


Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and the World Future Council.

About the event

Disarmament is usually considered to be a security issue. However, it is equally relevant as a health issue. Weapons testing, trade and use impact considerably people’s lives and wellbeing, killing or severely injuring hundreds of thousands of people annually. In addition, the high levels of human and economic resources invested in weapons deprive health and social systems of the resources needed for resilience and universality. The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased and accentuated this reality.

As the pandemic began spreading around the world in early 2020, it became increasingly clear that societies in armed conflict, and those that had prioritised investment in military security, were less able to contain and address the pandemic than societies experiencing peace and social cohesion, and that had given priority to measures of human security and sustainable development, such as public health and education.

In March 2020, the UN Secretary general launched a global ceasefire initiative and provided additional support for UN special envoys to reinforce diplomatic action, help create conditions for the delivery of lifesaving aid, and bring support to populations that are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Inter-Parliamentary Union supported this initiative, including through a statement released in April 2020, stressing the need for peace efforts and a reprioritization of human security in the context of the pandemic.

The joint publication Assuring our Common Future discusses further the negative correlations between high military expenditure, unrestricted arms flows and armed conflict on the one hand with resilient social and health systems required to adequately  address pandemic prevention, management and mitigation. See Assuring our Common Future: Chapter 6: Pandemics and disarmament, public health, and sustainability.

Objectives of the event:

1.    Increase awareness of the connections between disarmament, peace, public health and pandemic management;
2.    Identify challenges and opportunities that could help parliaments play a more active role in public health-oriented disarmament, especially to address pandemic and post-pandemic public health needs;
3.    Share ‘good parliamentary practices’ and effective policies on disarmament for public health, including measures that help advance disarmament during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and to build back better from the pandemic.

Who can attend?

The primary intended audience are legislators/parliamentarians, legislative assistants, members of parliamentary organizations and civil society representatives who are engaging directly with legislators. However, we also welcome participation by government and UN officials, academics and others interested in advancing effective policies on disarmament for public health.


Session A: November 9 (Asia/Pacific session)

Chair: Hon Mr Saber Chowdhury (Bangladesh), Honorary President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. PNND Co-President


  • Dr Yuriy Kryvonos (Nepal), Director of United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia
  • Rt Hon Helen Clark (New Zealand), Co-Chair, The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. Former Administrator of the UN Development Program and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  • Dr (med) Hedy Fry MP. OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Gender. Chair of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament – Canada.
  • Mr Arthur Duforest. PNND/IPU research officer for Assuring our Common Future: parliamentary guide on disarmament for security and sustainable development.


Session B: November 10 (Americas/Europe/Africa session)

Chair: Ms Paddy Torsney (Canada/USA), Permanent Representative of the IPU to the UN


  • Dr (med) José Ignacio Echániz MP (Spain), Former Chair of the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security. Vice-Chair of the IPU Health Advisory Group.
  • Professor Dan Plesch (UK). Director, Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS University. Founder and Director, Strategic Concept for Removal of Arms and Proliferation  
  • Mr Alyn Ware (New Zealand/Czech Republic) Editor of Assuring our Common Future: parliamentary guide on disarmament for security and sustainable development)

Preparatory reading

Pandemics and disarmament, public health and economic sustainability, From Assuring our Common Future, November 2021

Event flyer