Jordi Armadans, director of FundiPau (Foundation for Peace)

Javier Alcalde
Researcher, International Catalan Institute for Peace

Jordi Armadans

Jordi Armadans, a political scientist and journalist, is director of FundiPau (Foundation for Peace), in Barcelona. As a member of the Control Arms coalition he was in New York to follow the ATT negotiations

Catalonia participated actively in the negotiations for the ATT. Why?

In Catalonia there is a special interest in questions of peace. So despite being a small country with no direct involvement in many political and diplomatic affairs at an international level, we do keep abreast of many different issues. Compared to other larger countries, which have their own state, diplomatic corps, and so on, in Catalonia there was a feeling that the ATT was an important matter and that we had to be involved in it. This participation had two elements: on the one hand, civil society activism, directly involved in the campaign; on the other the aspect related to a centre for research and analysis, which is also very important.

How, specifically, have we contributed to the fact that we now have this treaty?

Basically in three ways. Firstly, promoting awareness, because while we ourselves are very conscious of the problem of the arms trade — of the grave humanitarian impact of the proliferation and lack of control of weapons — the issue is not very widely known: we need more people to become acquainted with this problem, and with the need for something to be done. Secondly, linking with the international network, participating in campaigns, with international activities and protests, as well as participating personally in the diplomatic process. Thirdly, advocacy work, being in contact with the Spanish government to make sure that they're really on the case, that they participate in the diplomatic conferences, etc.

Did you also have contact with the Andorran government?

Andorra is a very small state and their team at the United Nations is snowed under, with millions of processes in which they have to be involved, so there are many things that they are unable to participate in. It is however true that with the information that we passed to them, with the encouragement that we gave them, they did become involved and they added their vote and their presence towards the end of the process. It is something that we are very happy about.

At an institutional level, what was the role of city councils and the Catalan Parliament?

Here we had something really nice that didn't happen in many countries, with an event in June of last year, before the diplomatic conference. The number of NGOs, city councils, the Catalan Parliament… that it was possible to mobilise to publicly express their support for the ATT shows that the information campaign did create more awareness. Thus not only was the issue discussed more in the media, but also the respective governments were obliged to pay more attention to the issue. In this sense, the ATT attracted significant social and institutional support.

What is the relationship between the ATT campaign and previous campaigns?

This is interesting, because it is a very little known fact that probably the oldest previous example of coordination among NGOs is a campaign that started in Spain in 1994, "There are secrets that kill", in which Vicenç Fisas, a person with great leadership abilities and expertise in this area, successfully encouraged NGOs from outside the peace movement to involve themselves: Amnesty International, Intermón (now part of Oxfam), Doctors Without Borders and Greenpeace.

What were the demands of "There are secrets that kill"?

We asked for an end to so much opacity and for there to be more transparency in the Spanish arms trade. The fact that we got very large NGOs working together for an issue such as this was an interesting part of the experience, and something that was subsequently repeated. Thus, there is a continuing thread that comes from way back, and that has also had an influence at an international level.

Going back to the idea with which we started this conversation, do you think that there's consensus among the Catalan political parties about the foreign policy that should be implemented from here?

I think that this special interest we talked about has extended at a social level and in some ways the political actors also draw from and participate in this tradition. In fact, in all the international disarmament processes in which we have participated and where we have asked the Catalan Parliament to get involved, it has done so, and not only that, but also unanimously, including all the parties: with the ATT; with nuclear weapons; with cluster bombs and with small arms. It's important here to note the phenomenon of conscientious objection, by which very many young men in this country refused in different ways to do military service. That has left a residue that makes a lot of people aware that in Catalonia matters of peace have a special importance, which cannot be ignored by any party when it's thinking about what role Catalonia must play on the international stage in the future.

What advantages could public policies for peace bring us? Will we become the Norway of southern Europe?

It's a fact that there are countries that are well off in terms of their economy and human development that have achieved importance in issues of peace, and this has also given them a high profile at a global level; it means that institutions go to these countries to make contacts, set up projects, establish headquarters, etc. Also, if you look towards the future, the issues of peace building, conflict prevention and disarmament are gaining momentum. So the question is this. Is it better for Catalonia to be associated with things that come from the past and are outdated in some aspects, such as militarism and military industries? Or should we become known for what will eventually have to be the future in issues of peace? In this sense, the idea of being the Norway of the south would seem to me very attractive.