SEESAC celebrates 19 years of working towards a safer South East and East Europe
On 8 May 2021, the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) celebrated 19 years of continued action marked by unfaltering dedication to combating and reducing illicit arms flows and armed violence, and to advancing gender equality for a safer South East and East Europe (SEE).
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.
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 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;
- 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 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;
- 342,000 pieces of SALW destroyed, coupled with 24 weapons and ammunition storage sites and 15 evidence rooms with significantly enhanced security, diminish the risk of proliferation of SALW;
- SALW control related legislation and policies harmonized with the EU Acquis, leading to a regional standardization of procedures and practices;
- 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;
- 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;
- A number of knowledge tools and practical solutions for the integration of gender perspective in SALW control contribute to enhanced security for women and inspire action across the globe;
- Dozens of developed knowledge products and tailor-made solutions directly bolster various SALW control mechanisms;
- 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 is a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme and the Regional Cooperation Council. Its geographic area of responsibility includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo*, Moldova, as well as Belarus and Ukraine, and is supported by the European Union, Germany, United States of America, Norway, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden and France.
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.
*Reference to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of the Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)