Regional SALW control project concludes with a significant track record of accomplishments

Four years following its establishment, the regional project Support to the implementation of the Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans was brought to a successful closure. The project made a significant contribution to the implementation of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap, whose vision is that the Western Balkans become a safer region and an exporter of security, where comprehensive and sustainable mechanisms, fully harmonized with the European Union and other international standards, are in place to identify, prevent, prosecute, and control the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosives (FAE).

The regional project was established in 2019 as a framework for a coordinated approach towards SALW control Roadmap implementation. It was coordinated by UNDP SEESAC and funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, through a EUR 5.5 million contribution provided through the UNDP Funding Windows.

Eight Roadmap sub-projects were funded through the regional project, covering all jurisdictions of the Western Balkans and implemented by the UNDP Offices in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The sub-projects were carefully tailored to the needs on the ground, addressing the priorities set by the jurisdictions as they strived to achieve the Roadmap Goals that the jurisdictions agreed upon at the London Summit in July 2018. The regional project covered a wide array of topics from countering illicit arms trafficking to enhancing ballistic capacities and security upgrade of SALW storages. It enabled the implementation of pilot and flagship projects in the areas of gender and SALW control, ballistics, and countering illicit arms trafficking that got scaled up or replicated across the region through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi Partner Trust Fund.

The highlights of accomplishments encompass the following:

  • Advanced crime scene investigation and ballistic procedures in Albania and Serbia in line with the EU and international standards - ISO 17020 and ISO 17025.
  • Supported the development and implementation of more than 15 Standard Operating Procedures for law enforcement entities in Albania, BiH and Serbia, thus standardizing and harmonizing the regulatory and operational framework across the jurisdictions.
  • Upgraded SALW data collection and analysis platforms. In Kosovo and North Macedonia, the Weapons Registration Systems were upgraded. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the project developed the National Database of SALW Transport Licenses. In North Macedonia, a Police Information Management System was developed as the main tool for recording SALW related incidents and crime.
  • Advanced practice and resources on countering arms trafficking: i) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the SALW Identification Tool was improved and deployed to all law enforcement agencies. Ii) In Kosovo, the project enhanced risk analysis at borders in line with CIRAM 2.0 model. Furthermore, in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, a series of specialized training sessions, equipment and joint operations were delivered.
  • Disposed of 1,439 pieces of Multiple Launch Rocket System ammunition, in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Improved the physical security of SALW and ammunition stockpiles in Montenegro through the upgrade of two SALW storage magazines and guardhouse of the Ministry of Interior, in line with international best practice and standards.
  • Developed more than 25 knowledge products encompassing research papers, analyses, assessments, guidelines, or e-learning modules – which will serve as a continuous resource towards a more advanced SALW control and prevention of FAE-related crime and threats in the Region.

An independent evaluation of the regional project was completed in February 2023, which acknowledged the progress made with a broad and relevant portfolio of sub-projects. The regional project was found to be effective in terms of delivering the anticipated results. Both singly and taken together, the sub-projects were evaluated as important contributions to building momentum in the implementation of the Roadmap at the regional and jurisdiction levels. Feedback from jurisdiction-level partners was assessed as very positive, with numerous examples of how funded sub-projects catalyzed broader interventions, demonstrating their relevance and showing some early signs of impact. The progress will be further built upon and solidified through the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi Partner Trust Fund

The final report of the regional project provides further insights, and it is available here.

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*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).