Governments and the European Union pledge support to fight armed violence in the Western Balkans

Paris, 11 December 2018

Over 100 partners gathered in Paris to build momentum, upscale current actions and pledge support for a sustainable solution to ending the suffering caused by illegal small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the Western Balkans and Europe at large.

The estimated large number of illegal firearms in the Western Balkans constitutes a threat for the security of the region and the European Union, due to their illicit trade, trafficking and misuse especially by organized crime and terrorist groups.

Therefore, the governments of France and Germany convened the first international High-Level Meeting in Paris on 11 December 2018.  The event aimed at boosting political determination to further increase the security and safety for every European citizen and at generating commitments to combat the dangers posed by the illicit possession, trafficking and misuse of firearms.

The conference was opened by Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Heiko Maas, German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs. Both Ministers stressed the importance of upscaling the work already ongoing on arms control in the Western Balkans and commended partners for the adoption of the Roadmap.  At the same time, Gerd Trogemann, Manager of UNDP’s Regional Hub in Istanbul, stressed how overcoming the SALW control related changes contributes Goal 16 promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies, lies at the heart of the global agenda for sustainable development.

The international High-Level meeting brought together over 100 participants including Ministers or Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior from Western Balkans, governments’ representatives from Europe, North America, and international and regional organizations engaged in arms control, including the United Nations. The Ministers of Interior from the Western Balkans presented the priorities set forth in the Action Plans for the implementation of the Roadmap while international organizations informed on their planned support to these action plans ranging from stockpiles management to strengthening criminal justice response to misuse of firearms and mainstreaming gender in security policies.

Background information:

The international High-Level Meeting in Paris took place under the Franco-German Coordination Initiative for the Western Balkans, initiative which culminated with the adoption of the ‘Regional Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of SALW/firearms and their ammunition in the Western Balkans by 2024’ (‘the Roadmap’) in July 2018. The Roadmap was developed by authorities in the Western Balkans with UNDP SEESAC’s assistance.