Fighting arms trafficking in the Western Balkans

Timeframe: July 2021 to December 2023
Budget: EUR 565,400
Donor: Western Balkans Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The situation

Firearms trafficking is a major problem in the Western Balkans, largely as a result of the conflict during the 1990s which left a high number of unregistered weapons in circulation in the region. The Western Balkans is also one of the main sources for firearms smuggled into the European Union.

Although the threat of conflict in the region has decreased, levels of handgun ownership and armed violence remain high. The ease of access to and availability of firearms represents a serious threat to national, regional and international security.

Faced with this threat, Deputy Ministers of Interior and Foreign Affairs from the region developed a Roadmap in 2018. Amongst key goals, the document calls for a systematic destruction of all surplus stockpiles of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) as well as improved training of law enforcement units to prevent illicit trade of firearms.

Project aims

Project CALIBER’s overall goal is to fight the illicit possession, misuse and trafficking of firearms by improving law enforcement’s response and capabilities. Moreover, the project will promote police cooperation in the Western Balkans to help fight this crime.

Project activities

Activities under Project CALIBER include:

  • Extending access to the Illicit Arms Records and Tracing Management System (iARMS);
  • Providing technical assistance and equipment to beneficiary countries. This will also allow law enforcement agencies in charge of firearms-related crimes to access various INTERPOL databases and support investigations;
  • Providing training courses on records keeping, as well as tracing of recovered/seized illicit firearms.