EU Support of SEESAC Disarmament and Arms Control Activities in South East Europe (EUSAC)
Strengthening Safety and Security through Regional Cooperation in South East Europe
Due to extensive periods of instability, intense legacy of armed conflict, well developed channels of contraband smuggling as well as security/defense strategies that rely on stockpiling of weapons and ammunition, countries in the Western Balkans persist to be of a particular concern for SALW issues. In fact, the EU Strategy to combat the illicit accumulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition, identifies the Balkans and South-East Europe as regions particularly affected by the excessive accumulation and spread of SALW.
Poised to address the issue at hand, the EU turned to SEESAC, as an organization with more than ten years of experience in SALW control in the Western Balkans and a demonstrated strong track-record in project development, advising, monitoring and evaluation. On 9 December 2013 the Council of the European Union passed the Council Decision 2013/730/CFSP in support of SEESAC disarmament and arms control activities in South East Europe. This way the 28 EU member states secured over EUR 5 million for the implementation key SALW Control Activities by SEESAC.
The new phase of activities builds directly upon the SALW Control work SEESAC successfully completed during the 2010-2012 period under the Council Decision 2010/179/CFSP, and is part of the overall SEESAC Arms Control portfolio. It significantly enhances SEESAC’s capacity to continue to strengthen safety and security through regional cooperation in South East Europe.
The EU Support of SEESAC Disarmament and Arms Control Activities in South East Europe Project (EUSAC), which was designed in close cooperation with national authorities, will work on the following five interrelated streams of activities:
INCREASED SECURITY OF STOCKPILES THROUGH INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS AND CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT By 2016, 10 storage sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be upgraded. This activity will reduce the threat of the spread and illicit trafficking of SALW and their ammunition by improving security provisions for the storages of conventional weapons and ammunition stockpiles. Prior to the EUSAC project, SEESAC successfully assisted the upgrade of 7 SALW and ammunition storages in the Western Balkans (See SEESAC's previous work on SALW Storage Upgrades and Management Capacity Building).
In the course of the next three years, SEESAC will also organize 3 regional and up to 7 national Stockpile Management Trainings in order to boost the capacity of staff to safeguard stockpiles. SEESAC begins this activity with the experience of having recently held 3 training modules for 58 officials from the ministries of defence and interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia (See SEESAC's previous work on SALW Storage Upgrades and Management Capacity Building)
STOCKPILE REDUCTION THROUGH SALW AND AMMUNITION DESTRUCTION SEESAC provides independent, impartial and neutral technical advice and assistance for the development and implementation of safe, efficient and effective SALW destruction initiatives. Within the EUSAC project, up to 165,000 pieces of SALW and 12,442 pieces of ammunition are marked to be disposed of in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia by 2016.
As a result of SEESAC’s previous endeavors in this field, in the period 2002-2013, approximately 290,000 pieces of SALW have been disposed of in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia. (See SEESAC's Previous work on SALW Destruction)
IMPROVED MARKING, TRACING AND REGISTRATION OF SALW Through provision of technical assistance, trainings and analysis SEESAC will directly support local institutions to establish or enhance registration, marking and tracing systems. Furthermore, SEESAC will coordinate the establishment of the regional firearms network. This network will ensure that the regional know-how is identified and effectively utilized.
EUSAC’s work will be a continuation of previous activities during which SEESAC engaged with the government authorities in Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, bringing about the establishment and upgrading of their respective weapons registrations systems. (See SEESAC's previous work on SALW Marking, Tracing and Record-keeping)
IMPROVED REGIONAL COOPERATION ON AWARENESS RAISING, INFORMATION SHARING AND KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER In order to increase the capacity to combat the threat posed by SALW and their ammunition in South East Europe SEESAC will foster and facilitate knowledge sharing, information exchange and awareness-raising through closer regional cooperation. Through the EUSAC project, SEESAC will increase the capacity of National SALW Commissions and relevant institutions engaged in arms control by providing technical assistance and capacity development. At the same time, SEESAC will establish and facilitate a regional information exchange process bringing together representatives of National SALW Commissions and institutions engaged in arms control in order to increase regional cooperation and knowledge sharing.
IMPLEMENTATION OF COLLECTION AND AWARENESS RAISING CAMPAIGNS In order to increase security and reduce the threat of illicit trafficking of SALW and their ammunition SEESAC plans to implement four collection and awareness raising campaigns in South East Europe by the end of the 2016. The goal of the campaigns will be to facilitate the collection of illegal and unwanted weapons, explosive devices, ordinances and associated ammunition held by the population and to raise awareness about the dangers posed by SALW as well to inform the public about the ways to legalize and surrender illegal weapons.
These activities will build on the knowledge and experience gained from the previous collection and awareness raising campaigns SEESAC supported, and which led to the collection of 589 pieces of illicit automatic weapons, 16,368 pieces of illicit fragmentation weapons, 1,164 pieces of legal weapons, 818,153 pieces of ammunition and 620kg of explosive in Croatia and establishment of an online platform for the assessment of public perceptions in Serbia. (See SEESAC's previous work on SALW Collection and Awareness Raising)
*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).