Cross-Border Integrated Institutional Approach Towards Combating Illicit Arms Trafficking

Implementing period: April 2021 - March 2023

Budget: U$522,067

The project, implemented jointly by UNDP Kosovo* and UNDP North Macedonia, aimed to improve the capacities of the authorities in both jurisdictions to create more violence-resilient communities through series of closely coordinated activities such as joint trainings and sharing of experience and intelligence, joint actions in combating converted weapons trafficking, joint police patrols at the border, joint analysis and problem and risk profiles, information sharing as well as promoting an integrated institutional approach towards dealing with firearms-related threats. Project activities built upon and complemented other SALW and Roadmap related projects in Kosovo and North Macedonia, achieved synergies, developed best practices and enabled more coherent approaches.

The project was intended to reduce and overcome the knowledge and skills gap on SALW investigations and complexities and inconsistencies in operational structures and working procedures between the two jurisdictions and bring them closer to best European practices in the field. Project results directly enhanced the cross-border and inter-institutional collaboration in the field of SALW from the early stage of investigations and improved the capacities of law-enforcement institutions to deal with trans-national arms trafficking threats. Through its efforts, the project also aimed to reduce the workload to national resources, improve the quality of investigations and secure solid and reliable information flow, thus increasing the number of conviction cases at courts.

Overall achievements:

  • Strengthened institutional capacities and police officers’ knowledge and understanding of illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of SALW through specialized trainings.
    • Completed needs assessment and gap analyses in relation to IAT, SALW control, possession and misuse as well as weapons categorization, for both jurisdictions. Several meetings and workshops were organized to verify or present the findings of the gap analyses.
    • A series of specialized training sessions enabled 820 police officers from both jurisdictions (77 women, 743 men) to enhance understanding and knowledge on illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of SALW. More specifically:
      • 12 training sessions on information gathering, information sharing, and information analysis were provided for 420 police officers in total from both jurisdiction, 220 from Kosovo and 200 from North Macedonia (36 women, 384 men).
      • 11 training sessions on weapons categorization and their essential parts, explosives and other handmade explosives, the possession and misuse of firearms and community policing/ILP were provided for 400 police officers in total from both jurisdictions, 200 each jurisdiction (41 women, 359 men).
    • Knowledge products were developed and translated into local languages to serve as a continuous resource, in addition to the needs assessment and gap analysis for each jurisdiction, including:
      • Manual on explosives, handmade explosives, and precursors.
      • Manual on community policing and intelligence led policing.
    • Strengthened institutional capacities and improved operational information sharing between North Macedonia and Kosovo law-enforcement institutions in combating trafficking of converted firearms.
      • Four comprehensive training sessions and one workshop on converted firearms trafficking were developed and delivered, enabling 119 law enforcement officers (75 men and 24 women) to jointly exchange and enhance knowledge and understanding on the subject matter. Per jurisdiction, this encompassed 59 (46 men and 13 women) from North Macedonia and 60 (49 men and 11 women) from Kosovo.
      • A Joint Investigative Operation between police of Kosovo and North Macedonia was planned and successfully executed in November-December 2022, tackling a potential organized crime group dealing in illicit arms trafficking. This paved the way towards future joint operations and actions.
    • Improved capacities of Cyber Crime Units and Firearms Focal Point (FFP) in dealing with illicit firearms trafficking on the Internet and Darknet
      • In joint efforts, the project developed a Practical Manual on the Investigation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) on the Internet. This was made accessible in local languages for a continuous use of the law enforcement agencies.
    • Increased outreach and communication to citizens through mass-media and targeted awareness raising campaigns.
      • The project successfully completed two mass media awareness raising campaigns (one in each jurisdiction) and four targeted campaigns (two in each jurisdiction) on the dangers of the misuse and trafficking of firearms. The campaigns were highly praised by the project beneficiaries in both jurisdictions and achieved excellent visibility within the targeted audiences, with more than 1.3 million registered social media views and more than 8 million social media impressions.

The project contributed to Roadmap Goals 3, 4, 5 and key performance indicators 4, 5, 9, 10 and 14 of the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons and their ammunition in the Western Balkans.