A Mid-Term Review Highlights Progress in Western Balkans' Efforts in the implementation of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap

A comprehensive Mid-Term Review has provided crucial insights into the advancement of goals outlined in 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 by 2024. Conducted between October 2022 and January 2023, the Mid-Term Review assessed the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021.

More than 175 individuals, including representatives from national authorities, regional and international organisations, and donors, were interviewed over an 18-day mission to the Western Balkans and remotely. The review utilised an adapted version of the OECD-DAC criteria, encompassing Relevance, Impact, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Coherence, Sustainability, and Gender considerations.

One of the key findings of the Mid-Term Review highlights the confirmed effectiveness and relevance of the Roadmap in addressing the challenges of small arms and light weapons (SALW) possession, misuse, and trafficking, while also contributing to broader security objectives within the Western Balkans and the European Union. The Roadmap's emphasis on regional cooperation and its role as a policy signal were also underscored.

The review also noted increased coordination and cooperation over the assessed period, indicating early signs of positive impact. Progress toward the Roadmap's goals was found to be largely on track, although variation was observed across different areas, such as policy mechanisms versus public attitudes. Recommendations were made to ensure ongoing relevance through regular threat assessments, translating capacity into operational activity, and reducing reporting requirements for the next phase of implementation. In addition, the review strongly encourages making an early decision on what follows after 2024.

The review recognised the significance of sustained funding and technical support from external partners to both Roadmap goals and local jurisdiction-level priorities. The recommendations highlighted the need for sustainability, encouraging actions that can carry the momentum achieved during the first phase of implementation into the future.

Furthermore, the Mid-Term Review identified lessons learned and good practices, including the importance of political engagement, targeted coordination efforts, and the acknowledgment that SALW control serves as a critical focal point for broader discussions. It emphasised the need to bridge the gap between political commitment and ambition, advocating for practical steps to address societal norms and behaviours related to gender equality and firearms ownership.

In conclusion, the Mid-Term Review also emphasised the continued relevance and effectiveness of the Roadmap in addressing SALW challenges. It stressed the importance of sustained commitment from the Western Balkans jurisdictions, along with regional and international partners, to translate capacities into operational activities and ensure sustainable progress in tackling the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.

The Mid-Term Review has been conducted with the funding support of the European Union through its Council Decision 2022/1654, amending Decision 2018/1788 in support of SEESAC for the implementation of the Regional Roadmap on combating illicit arms trafficking in the Western Balkans.

To access the Mid-Term Review Consolidated Findings, click here.