Small arms control as a precondition for peace, security and development

March 3, 2023

UNDP’s work on small arms control is an integral part of the support to the security sector.


New York, USA and Istanbul, Turkiye – In post-conflict contexts, managing stocks of arms can be key to preventing the resurgence of violence. Effective and transparent control over small arms contributes to peacebuilding, community security and development.

On the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness, UNDP recommits to its efforts towards armed violence reduction, people-centered security and mainstreaming small-arms control in development efforts and policies.

UNDP’s work on small arms control is an integral part of the support to the security sector. Good practices for arms control through the people-centered approach to security have been introduced, for example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cote d’Ivoire.

In post-conflict and fragile settings, institutions need support in managing their stock of arms. In Central African Republic and in partnership with UNMAS, UNDP operationalized new standards for arms and ammunitions storage.

Nine countries across the Sahel and Mano River benefitted from UNDP’s regional programme on small arms and light weapons (SALW) in West and Central Africa in 2022, with the support from the EU and Germany. Activities included rekindled partnership with the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS), sensitization and advocacy, strengthening of cross-border management systems, collection and destruction of arms and ammunitions.

UNDP's regional programme SEESAC works to strengthen the capacities of national and regional stakeholders to control and reduce the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in South-Eastern and Eastern Europe. Over the past 20 years, regional cooperation processes have been established under SEESAC’s helm: expanding know-how and driving coordination of action and standardization of practices in SALW control on both strategic and operational levels.

SEESAC’s achievements include:

  • Strengthening capacities of key institutions combating arms trafficking
  • Fostering evidence-based policy making
  • Advancing physical security and stockpile management practices
  • Raising awareness of SALW-related issues.

SEESAC has also been entrusted with monitoring and coordinating the implementation of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap – the most comprehensive regional SALW control exercise globally, as well as with programmatic coordination and monitoring of 16 UNDP and UNODC-run projects funded through UN’s Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap Multi-Partner Trust Fund currently wielding a budget of over US$ 24 million.

The scope of work has expanded to include the advancement of gender equality in the security sector reform and the Women, Peace and Security agenda. SEESAC supports governments in developing signature solutions rooted in strong partnerships, local ownership and regional coordination. Proved successful, these solutions and standardized approaches have been replicated in the Caribbean and the European Union (EU).   

This year will see the expansion of SALIENT – Saving Lives Entity – a global project dedicated to supporting Member States in tackling armed violence and illicit small arms and light weapons as part of a comprehensive approach to sustainable security and development. Implemented in partnership between UNDP and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), SALIENT started in 2021 in three pilot countries: Cameroon, Jamaica and South Sudan.

In Jamaica, the control over small arms has improved due to legislative review, capacity building and youth sensitization to reduce violence in schools. In Cameroon, following an awareness raising campaign, the Ministry of External Relations will work on the action plan of the National Commission on SALW. In South Sudan, where political and security challenges delayed project operations, efforts are made to include women in decision-making and implementation of the disarmament process.

In 2023, new countries will be selected to ensure global coverage. SALIENT is financially housed in the UN Peacebuilding Fund with contributions from the governments of Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland. SALIENT is implemented through UNDP’s Global Programme for Strengthening the Rule of Law, Human Rights, Justice and Security for Sustainable Peace and Development.