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2 June 2010

Massive Gun Sculpture Unveiled as Academic Council on the United Nations Holds Annual Meeting in Vienna

VIENNA, 2 June (UN Information Service) - A massive five ton work of art made entirely of decommissioned weapons such as handguns, ammunition and landmines is going on display at the Vienna International Centre this week. The Gun Sculpture was developed by Canadian artists Sandra Bromley and Wallis Kendal as their comment on the culture of violence engulfing many modern societies.

The Gun Sculpture is part of an exhibition called The Art of Peacemaking which includes a mural showing photographs of victims of war and various forms of violence around the world and a blackboard and book where visitors can comment on the exhibition.

According to artists Bromley and Kendal, the sculpture is meant to challenge but not shock visitors intellectually and emotionally, to bring insight into the nature of violence. The weapons are a metaphor for the 20th-century violence, which many argue was the most violent century in human history.

The opening of the exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters in Vienna coincides with the annual meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) from 3-5 June, which is focusing on "New Security Challenges".

Leading up to the ACUNS Conference, UNIS Vienna and the Diplomatic Academy Vienna are co-hosting a public lecture by Lakhdar Brahimi on "Afghanistan and its Regional Environment" this evening (2 June) at the Diplomatic Academy Vienna.

Also within the framework of the ACUNS conference, UNIS Vienna is co-hosting a workshop on "The United Nations and the Media" on Friday, 4 June at 15:00 in Room G0545 of the Vienna International Centre. Speakers include Maher Nasser, Director, UNIS Vienna, Bill Miller, Producer/Moderator, Global Connections Television, Annika Thunborg, Spokesperson, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission, Niko Jilch, journalist, Gill Tudor, Spokesperson, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ingrid Lehmann, ACUNS, and Axel Wuestenhagen, Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria (Chair).

The Gun Sculpture was first shown at the United Nations in New York in 2001 during the United Nations Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. The fourth biennial meeting of States to review implementation of the Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons will take place from 14 to 18 June 2010 in New York.

The 7,000 or so deactivated weapons which make up the Gun Sculpture were collected from around the world, each one connected in some way with a violent act. Every piece has been individually altered so that it would never function again. The items were welded in place, partly using aircraft assembly technology. None of these weapons can be removed or fired, and the structure is stable.

The media are invited to the official opening/formal unveiling of the gun sculpture at 18:30 on Friday 4 June in the Rotunda, Vienna International Centre.

The speakers at the opening include Executive Director of ACUNS, Patricia Goff, the artist Sandra Bromley, the Canadian Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna, John Barrett and Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) Mazlan Othman. The event will be moderated by the UNIS Director, Maher Nasser.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime the market for illicit arms is estimated globally at US$ 200-300 million per year, which is about 20 per cent of the (licit and measurable) arms trade. Africa, the arms smugglers' most profitable market, suffers the largest number of casualties because of it.

To date only 79 Members States are parties to the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Organized Crime, which entered into force in July 2005. Parties to the Protocol are required to adopt legislation to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands; criminalize the removal of the markings on guns; keep the records necessary to trace them; prevent the re-activation of disabled guns; promote cooperative regimes to monitor gun flows; prevent weapons theft; and build law enforcement capacity across borders.

The Gun Sculpture will be on display in the Rotunda of the VIC until the end of the July and can be seen as part of the guided tours of the United Nations in Vienna.

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The artists are available for interviews in Vienna until 9 June 2010.

For further information on the Gun Sculpture contact:

Elisabeth Wächter
Chief, Visitors Service, UNIS Vienna
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-3348

For further information on UNIS-events at ACUNS, contact:

Sonja Wintersberger
Deputy to the Director, UNIS Vienna
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-3430

For more information on ACUNS visit