Strengthening safety and security in South East Europe

destruction of weapons
In December 2012, 17,000 small arms and light weapons were destroyed in Serbia with the support of EU and UNDP. Photo: SEESAC

“The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon warned in August 2012 at the 62nd UN DPI/NGO annual conference. In 2011, global military expenditure accounted for $1.74 trillion a year ($4.6 billion a day), while global development assistance amounted for $133.5 billion a year ($365 million a day). The large scale accumulation of weapons poses a global threat for peace, development and security and increases ‘lost human opportunities’.  

South-east Europe has been recognised as an important challenge to peace and security by the EU Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Strategy, especially given the numbers of illegal, unwanted or surplus weapons in storage. Due to the historical accumulation, the Western Balkan countries have been of a particular concern regarding their number of weapons and munitions stockpiles.


  • 45,285 weapons in Serbia and 30,000 weapons in Croatia destroyed since 2010
  • 14,621 weapons, 564,434 bullets and 190 kg of explosives collected through an awareness raising campaign in Croatia
  • With UNDP/SEESAC support, 5 weapons and ammunition storage sites have been upgraded in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro
  • National registration and record-keeping systems developed in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro

Recognising the negative effect that the widespread availability of SALW can have on the prospects of sustainable development, EU and UNDP have joined forces to combat the threat posed by SALW in the Western Balkans. This is done by, among other things, supporting the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC). SEESAC has a mandate from UNDP and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) to support international and national stakeholders in controlling and reducing the proliferation and misuse of SALW. This in turn contributes to enhanced stability, security and development in South Eastern and Eastern Europe.

Since 2010, EU-funding to UNDP/SEESAC activities has resulted in the destruction of 45,285 weapons in Serbia and 30,000 weapons in Croatia. In parallel, weapons collection campaigns in Serbia and Croatia have been successfully raising awareness of the threat of illegal weapons and the need to reduce their number. During the national-wide campaign in Croatia, 14,621 weapons, 564,434 bullets and 190 kg of explosives were collected between May 2010 and August 2011.

At the last destruction event in Croatia Ms. Louise Vinton, the UNDP Resident Representative for Croatia, said “Given that in the course of one year SALW kill over half a million people, most of them civilians, we at UNDP believe that every gun destroyed is an equivalent to one life saved.”

The last destruction activity in Serbia took place on 21 December 2012, and saw the destruction of 17,000 SALWs with the support of EU funding.

The UNDP/SEESAC project has also supported storage improvements in Montenegro (Taras), Croatia (Murat) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Kula, Krupa and Gabela). In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in Montenegro, SEESAC works with developing regional capacity and provides stockpile management courses.  SEESAC also supports the countries to develop national registration and record-keeping systems

Cooperation and coordination amongst the countries in the region, which has experienced numerous political, economic and social changes over the past 20 years, is crucial for the control and decrease of SALW proliferation. This cooperation has significantly improved and continues to do so as a result of UNDP/SEESAC’s holistic approach.