Disarmament through TV: peace education in Albania.

Author:Skendaj, Elton

On 9 June 2004, Top Channel TV, the most respected television station in Albania, hosted a national debate on its popular "Top Show" programme, which dealt with issues of arms control and education for disarmament. Such a topic is relevant in the Albanian context, particularly after the crisis of 1997 when people looted weapons as State institutions collapsed. Participants in the show included various personalities, United Nations staff, and civil society and police personnel.

On the issue of arms control, some participants argued that the best control strategy would be to hand over weapons freely to people and let them take care of their own security. The main reason given for this argument was that the United States has a similar policy towards guns: however, it was countered easily. An increase in weapons increases insecurity. The United States experience teaches us that gun ownership could contribute to escalating rather than reducing violence. After that segment, discussions centred on the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) and the danger of nuclear proliferation and how it makes the world less secure. Speakers focused not only on the possibility of individuals or States getting hold of nuclear weapons but also the danger posed by the five official and three unofficial nuclear-weapon States. The threat to security posed by the global channeling of funds towards military instead of civilian use was explored. It was also argued that such a threat hinders human development and provides the necessary infrastructure for future wars and conflict.

The debate also touched on United Nations efforts towards disarmament and peace education in Albania. A representative from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) talked about the important contribution made to the physical removal of weapons in the country through its Weapons in Exchange for Development Programme, which provides community-based infrastructure in exchange for weapons collected. Education for peace and disarmament was discussed as a way of sustaining the physical removal of weapons. In...

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