Paris, 12 December 2018 – Governments and the European Union committed to curbing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the Western Balkans and Europe, in an international high-level meeting to be convened by France and Germany around the issue.
Multilateral organizations and governments at the conference agreed to continue to work together to prevent and prosecute the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms, ammunition and explosives in the region.
“The challenge of small arms and light weapons needs a sustained, long term and integrated response, with a strong development focus,” said Gerd Trogemann, Manager of UNDP’s Regional Hub in Istanbul.
Every day, firearms-related incidents in the Western Balkans kill or injure people, while many of them fall into the hands of organized crime and terrorist groups, posing a major threat for the security of the region and the European Union.
Governments in the Western Balkans at the initiative of France and Germany who partnered with UNDP’s South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) in developing and adopting a regional roadmap to end the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms in the Western Balkans within five years. UNDP SEESAC is also responsible for monitoring and coordinating its execution.
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.
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.