Halting Arms and Lawbreaking Trade (HALT)

Implementing period: February 2020 - October 2022 

Budget: US$2,200,000

Through this project, UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP) contributed to the security and safety in BiH in the context of the implementation of the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to illicit firearms trafficking in the Western Balkans by 2024. The project activities supported the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA)/BiH Customs to better detect and respond to the illicit trafficking of SALW. Apart from ITA, several other BIH institutions benefited from the project implementation including BIH Border Police, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations (MOFTER), the Agency for Postal Traffic and the three designated postal operators. The HALT Project was the first project under the MPTF to include the private sector in the implementation of the Roadmap with the participation of Express Courier and freight forward companies.

The intervention was tailor-made and sought to address the needs of BIH outlined in several strategies, including but not limited to BiH SALW Strategy 2016-2020 and the respective action plan, the Strategy for the fight against organized crime, and the Strategy for Preventing and Combating Terrorism (2015 – 2020). It was also fully compliant with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in BiH, more precisely with Outcome 2: By 2019, BiH consolidates and strengthens mechanisms for peaceful resolution of conflicts, reconciliation, respect for diversity, and community security.

Overall achievements:

  • Enhanced Integrated Border management capacity of BIH to better fight illicit SALW trafficking through targeted assistance to Customs/ITA, Border Police and three postal agencies. This entailed the following specific results:
  • Development of Needs Assessments as a baseline that guided further action. The project developed i) Needs assessment of BiH Customs/ITA (UNDP), and ii) Gap and Needs assessment for preventing trafficking of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition through postal shipments (UNODC).
  • Development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) in line with Gap and Needs Assessment. Nine (9) SOPs were developed and officially adopted by ITA. 14 ITA staff passed train-the-trainer sessions, ensuring continuous in-house resource. (UNDP)
  • Provision of specialized equipment for better performance of BiH Customs/ITA and Border Police. The project provided comprehensive SALW detection equipment and improved BIH Customs' and BIH Border Police infrastructure at border crossings to better detect smuggling of arms' and other goods. (UNDP)
    • ITA + train-the-trainer: 4 mobile detectors for explosives and narcotics; 22 videoscopes (endoscopes); 13 contraband detectors; 50 explosives and narcotics detection kits; 50 universal multitool kits; 24 vehicle inspection kits.
    • Border Police: 7 contraband detectors; 13 digital cameras; 25 metal carts; 8 evidence packaging kits; 11 sets of number evidence markers; 33 multitool kits.
  • Trained 770 customs officers/officials on the use of SOPs and specialized equipment. 738 customs officers (191 women and 547 men) trained on SOPs and the proper use of donated equipment, and this was accredited by the BiH Civil Service Agency[1]. This encompassed 37 one-day iterations in 14 different cities throughout BiH covering all 4 ITA regional centres. In addition, one-day workshop for 32 ITA middle managers (4 women and 28 men) was organized to stress the importance of application of developed SOPs and their final endorsement, bringing the total number of trained customs officers/officials to 770 (195 women and 575 men). (UNDP)
  • Affirmation of women’s role in BiH Customs. A brief analysis of the affirmation and career options for women in the BiH ITA was conducted as part of the needs assessment analysis of BiH ITA, and a series of workshops aimed at the affirmation of women's role in BIH Customs were rolled out: 8 workshops with the engagement of 202 ITA employees (124 women and 78 men), of which 121 managers (59 women and 62 men) including active participation of lecturers from ITA (ITA focal point for gender issues) as well as the two Associations of Women Police Officials operating in BiH, BiH Agency for Gender Equality and the BiH Ministry of Security. (UNDP)
  • Detection of firearms in fast and postal parcels was enhanced. Four SOPs were developed in collaboration with designated postal operators (DPOs) and BiH Customs/ITA on the detection of firearms in fast and postal parcels, for BiH Customs, BH Pošta, Pošte Srpske, Hrvatska pošta Mostar. In addition, SOPs were developed for four Express Courier (private) companies (noting that DHL already has procedures in place that are congruent to the ones adopted by the other four express courier companies). (UNODC)
  • Developed and delivered a set of capacity development activities for postal operators on detection of firearms in postal parcels and provided three X-ray scanners for detection of firearms in postal parcels (UNODC):
    • Foundation level training course; Advanced level training course; Computer-based training course, with 3 levels.
    • Developed a training manual: Analysis of Firearms X-ray images, to ensure a continuous resource.
    • Conducted 12 monitoring/mentoring visits to regional post distribution centers and Express Courier companies in BiH.
    • Installed X-ray scanners and provided related training on its use to Customs staff, and delivered 90 explosive and narcotics detection kits.
    • 100 practitioners (24 women and 76 men) in total increased their capacity for detection of firearms, their parts and ammunition in postal parcels from BiH Customs, BH Pošta, Pošte Srpske, Hrvatska pošta Mostar, out of whom 20 BiH Customs officials (4 women and 16 men) were trained as trainers, to serve as a continuous resource in-house.
  • Strengthened cooperation and information exchange between BIH Customs and other institutions at national level and with three neighboring states. This entailed the following specific results:
    • Implemented joint inter-institutional exercises with active part of BiH Customs, law enforcement agencies, and BiH Prosecutor: 307 police and customs officers trained through 11 joint exercises (UNDP)
    • Organized four peer exchange meetings for BiH Customs, with peers from Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro – exchange of best practices and experiences [three bilateral peer exchanges and one joint (minus Croatia)] (UNDP)
    • Facilitated strategic-level meetings among relevant SALW stakeholders in BiH, including BIH SALW Coordination Board, as well as one meeting with all police commissioners chaired by Director of Federation Police Directorate (UNDP)
    • Supported four bilateral cross-border operations between the customs officers of BiH and those from Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia: Drina 2021, Tara 2021, Tara 2022, Rijeka 2022. During these, exchange of information was intensified as well as controls and searches conducted, resulting in a number of seizures of illicit goods, drugs and some FAE. This also brought formalization of information exchange between customs administrations. In total, 81 experts from BiH and neighbouring countries participated in the bilateral operations (18 women and 63 men). Lessons learnt and key findings were exchanged and will guide further operations. (UNODC)
      • MoU between the BiH and Croatian Customs was signed, defining protocols for information exchange, significantly streamlining the cooperation process.
  • Strengthened public-private cooperation at the national level on countering firearms in fast and postal parcels (UNODC):
    • Developed a gap analysis on the cooperation framework between the BiH Customs and commercial sector entities on the detection of firearms in Express Courier parcels.
    • Identified opportunities for increased consultations between the courier companies and the Customs in the process of developing new sector’s regulations.
    • Identified solutions for providing preferential treatment by the Customs for companies that comply with specific conditions within the existent legislative framework.
    • Identified need for signing a MoU between private courier companies and Customs for exchange of information, based on risk indicators.
    • In collaboration with public institutions, enhanced risk assessment on firearms trafficking of 21 private companies: four express courier companies (four workshops in collaboration with BiH Customs) and 17 freight forwarding companies (two workshops in collaboration with MOFTER and the Ministry of Transport and Communication). As a result, 47 express courier staff (11 women and 36 men) and 50 representatives of freight forwarding companies (15 women and 35 men) have better understanding about the risks and regulations to counter firearms trafficking.
  • Overall, the project improved BiH capacities to combat illicit SALW trafficking in an effective manner:
    • There is a continuous use of SOPs and donated equipment: ITA reported three confiscations of weapons and weapons’ spare parts, in 2022 in Tuzla, and one in 2023 in Sarajevo.
    • By the end of the project (June 2023), noted was an increase in the detection of firearms in postal parcels, including aspects of international cooperation: there were 30 detected firearms parts in postal parcels by December 2022 (as compared to 3 detected firearms in postal parcels prior to the start of the project), with ongoing investigations and a detained suspect with hundreds of firearms parts ready to send via postal parcels.
    • The ensured continuous communication and cooperation both at strategic and operational levels among relevant agencies and institutions in BiH and between BiH and neighbouring countries strengthened the basis for more effective detection of illegal SALW trade.  
    • This also paved the way to the establishment of good practice and models of cooperation, which will further be multiplied and expanded upon through subsequent projects on SALW Control within the MPTF.


[1] Training concept developed under HALT project was formally recognized by the Agency for Civil Service of BiH. As a result, each customs officer that had completed the training was granted 5 credits by the Agency.