EU, UNDP and BiH mark International Gun Destruction Day

Jul 8, 2017

Arms Destruction at Jelsingrad Smelter, Banja Luka, 08 July 2017

On the occasion of the International Gun Destruction Day - 9 July, the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Coordination Board of BiH organised destruction of more than 1,450 pieces of small arms and light weapons and more than 1,070 pieces of arms components at Jelisingrad smelter in Banja Luka.

The event was attended by the representatives of the police agencies, BiH Ministry of Defense, EU in BiH, and UNDP BiH.

The EU provided EUR 6,508,136 between 2017 and 2019 to the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC), for the control and destruction of illicit weapons across the region. With these funds, Bosnia and Herzegovina disposed of 996 long and 1,319 short barrels, which were either confiscated by law enforcement agencies in BiH or were surplus from the BiH Ministry of Defense. This clearly will have a significant impact on general security and safety situation in BiH and will contribute directly to the safety of the citizens.

Richard Wood, Head of the Rule of Law Section at the Office of the EU Special Representative in BiH said: “We are happy to witness this important event today as small arms and light weapons represent a national, regional and EU threat. As such it is important that we tackle the problem together across the region. EU commends the efforts of Law Enforcement Agencies and encourages authorities to take all possible steps to continue to remove weapons from the public domain. “

Initiated by the UN in 2001, International Gun Destruction Day serves as a reminder about the threat that excess, poorly secured, and illegal weapons pose to the public’s everyday safety and security.

“Surrender, collection and destruction of SALW and corresponding ammunition is one of important strategic goals mentioned in the Small Arms and Light Weapons Strategy in BiH 2016 – 2020, and its implementation is continuation of efforts to reduce the threat of SALW in BiH and the region” Ermin Pešto, Chairperson of Small Arms and Light Weapons Coordination Board in BIH, stressed during the event.

“UNDP, SEESAC and EU recognized the need for assistance to national authorities in BiH in disposal of small arms and light weapons and its importance for the security in the wider region”, UNDP BiH Justice and Security Sector Leader,  Slobodan Tadic said during the ceremony, highlighting that this disposal event does not only mark the International Gun Destruction Day but “will also contribute to prevention of SALW proliferation that may represent a threat to peace, stability and sustainable development.”

This year, to mark, International Gun Destruction Day, SEESAC is coordinating parallel destruction events in BiH, Montenegro and in Kosovo* and sending a clear message from the region on the importance of raising awareness about the threat posed by excess, poorly secured and illegal firearms in SEE and across the entire continent.

Background info:
In South East Europe, the problem of small arms circulation and proliferation knows no borders, and as such demands a joint, regional response. Under the auspices of the EU COUNCIL DECISION (CFSP) 2016/2356 SEESAC is providing support to the authorities in the region in small arms and light weapons control activities within the EU Strategy to Combat the Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of SALW and their Ammunition. The destruction of weapons was implemented as part of activities contributing to non-proliferation and control of SALW, and similar activities will be periodically conducted throughout the region in the period 2017 – 2019. The key component of the project is supporting the authorities in SEE to dispose of their surplus and confiscated SALW and their ammunition.

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

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