The South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) works to strengthen the capacities of national and regional stakeholders to control and reduce the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, advance gender equality, facilitate regional cooperation and thus contribute to enhanced stability, security and development in South Eastern and Eastern Europe. SEESAC functions as a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC). SEESAC works closely with the Governments in South East and East Europe and is supported by the European Union, Germany, France, United States of America, Norway, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) continues to pose a constraint to the long term economic and social development in South Eastern and Eastern Europe.
To address the serious challenge that the proliferation of SALW represented to post-conflict peace-building, on 8 May 2002 SEESAC was launched and was given a mandate by the UNDP and the Stability Pact for South East Europe (later succeeded by the Regional Cooperation Council - RCC) to function as an executive arm of the Regional Implementation Plan on Combating Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
The Regional Implementation Plan was formulated and adopted by the Stability Pact in November 2001 and revised in 2006 and 2014. The aim of the Plan was to increase regional cooperation; improve legislative frameworks, policies and practices; improve the security of stockpiles through infrastructure upgrades; reduce stockpiles of SALW and ammunition; increase transparency of arms transfers; improve marking, tracing and record-keeping systems and practices; and increase capacity through training, technical advice and knowledge sharing.
From its onset in 2002, SEESAC’s role has been that of an executive arm of the Regional Implementation Plan to Combat the Proliferation and Impact of Small Arms and Light Weapons and that of a focal point for SALW-related activities in South East Europe. By 2009, the scope of our work grew to include the advancement of gender equality in the security sector reform, thus also contributing to the Women, Peace and Security agenda. More recently, our geographic area of responsibility expanded to include Belarus and Ukraine as well.
As such, SEESAC provides national counterparts with the necessary support in terms of:
- Facilitation of regional cooperation
- Coordination of measures and activities
- Capacity Building
- Resource Mobilization
- Development of Technical Tools
- Project Implementation
- Information Management
- Provision of technical and expert advice
- Monitoring and reporting progress
SEESAC is housed in UNDP’s Belgrade office, operates under the Istanbul Regional Hub of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States and receives political and strategic guidance and support from the Regional Steering Group for Small Arms and Light Weapons (RSG). The RSG is composed of representatives of the governments of the states concerned, the RCC, UNDP and observers from institutions such as the European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and civil society. The RSG meets annually.
SEESAC liaises directly with governments and civil society, providing technical input, information exchange, coordination and overview of current and future efforts and fund-raising assistance for specific SALW projects. More specifically, SEESAC's regional activities include sensitizing governments and civil society on small arms issues, formulating national strategies for SALW control and supporting the national stakeholders in executing these strategies, as well as incorporating small arms issues into UNDP development planning.
In the course of our work, SEESAC supported governments in developing a number of signature solutions rooted in strong partnerships, local ownership, and regional coordination, thus contributing to the standardization of approaches and positioning the region among the global leaders in SALW control. Several of these solutions are now being replicated by other regions of the world, such as the Caribbean and the EU.
Through its engagement, SEESAC has been facilitating regional cooperation and supporting governments to create more effective, accountable, and inclusive security sectors, helping usher in significant gains for a #SaferRegion:
The Armed Violence Monitoring Platform provides an up to date, detailed insight into firearms incidents in the region and their trends, contributing to evidence-based policymaking;
7 SALW control coordination mechanisms in South East Europe have been established by the authorities, with SEESAC’s support, and now serve as a strategic framework for synchronized implementation of SALW control efforts and represent the backbone of regional cooperation;
The Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap has been developed, and is considered a blueprint for voluntary national and regional target-setting on SALW control globally;
A shared regional system for monitoring SALW control efforts has been created through the development of Key Performance Indicators tracking the Western Balkans Roadmap implementation, and though a common SALW surveys methodology;
Operational cooperation between law enforcement and criminal justice structures has been increased within the SEE and with the EU, though the South East Europe Firearms Experts Network;
Capacities of the border and criminal police services have been strengthened as a result of comprehensive assessments, new equipment, training, and development of procedures for enhanced detection and investigation of misuse and trafficking of SALW;
5 Firearms Focal Points have been established and enhance firearms investigations, following a comprehensive technical and advisory support provided by SEESAC, leading to a standardization of approaches throughout the region; their lessons learned are collected in the Guidelines;
Regular publication of regional and national Reports on Arms Exports, and shared control mechanism, reflect one of the highest levels of regional synchronization and transparency of arms exports globally; these are direct results of the Regional Information Exchange Process;
Increased gender equality in the military in the Western Balkans through enhanced gender awareness of over 5,000 personnel members;
Increased number of women in Armed forces in the Western Balkans in the last 7 years from 3% to 6% in 2012, to between 6% and 9% in 2019;
11 regional and national SALW awareness-raising campaigns organized and supported, informing at least 9 million people about the dangers of SALW through social media alone.
All of these results are cumulatively responsible for:
22 million citizens in South East and East Europe living in a safer region
SEESAC directly contributes to the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals #16 and #5, striving to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, and to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, respectively.
SEESAC is implementing the EU Council Decision 2019/2111 maintaining the EU Support of SEESAC Disarmament and Arms Control Activities in South East Europe, building on the Council Decision 2016/2356, Council Decision 2013/730, Council Decision 2010/179, Council Decision 2004/791/CFSP, Council Decision 2003/807/CFSP and the Council Decision 2002/842/CFSP.
In addition to this, SEESAC is also implementing the EU Council Decision 2018/1788 for the implementation of the Regional Roadmap on combating illicit arms trafficking in the Western Balkans, through which SEESAC is, among other, coordinating and monitoring the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap implementation. In this role, SEESAC also operates as the Secretariat of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi Partner Trust Fund, funded by Germany, the UK Home Office, Sweden, France, the Netherlands and Norway.
SEESAC is also coordinating the implementation of UNDP’s Regional Project in support to the implementation of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap, funded by Germany, implemented by the UNDP Offices in the Western Balkans.
SEESAC is also directly implementing the Support for Enhancing the Fight Against the Illegal Possession, Misuse and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in the Western Balkans project, funded by EU Commission, DG NEAR.
Furthermore, with the support of the US State Department Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, SEESAC is implementing targeted projects aimed at enhancing the security and safety of SALW and related ammunition storage locations in Albania and Serbia.
SEESAC, with funding from Norway and Slovakia, has also been in the lead in facilitating regional cooperation and developing innovative solutions for the advancement of gender equality in the security sector reform, thus also contributing to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.